Russia's Medvedev says Japan's disaster colossal

GORKI, Russia Thu Mar 17, 2011 8:18am EDT

GORKI, Russia (Reuters) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday that Japan was in the throes of a colossal catastrophe.

"If you look at what has happened in Japan, it is of course a colossal national disaster, a catastrophe," Medvedev said at a meeting with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Russia has stepped up monitoring of radiation levels in its far eastern regions after an earthquake set off a series of accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in northern Japan.

The Emergency Situations Ministry said that radiation in Russia's Primorye region, which includes the city of Vladivostok and faces Japan across the Sea of Japan, was well within normal levels on Thursday.

"I hope there will not be such serious problems, such cataclysms" in Russia and its other neighbors, Medvedev said at the meeting at his Gorki residence, outside Moscow.

In a reference to last year's drought in Russia, Medvedev expressed hope that both Russia and Kazakhstan would have a better harvest this year.

"I hope there will be favorable weather conditions for the harvest," Medvedev said.

(Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; writing by Steve Gutterman; editing by Alissa de Carbonnel)

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