Officials from 50 nations to meet for Chernobyl anniversary

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Apr 18 2011 01:54 PM | Updated as of Apr 18 2011 09:54 PM

KIEV, Ukraine - Officials from some 50 countries are due in the Ukrainian capital Kiev on Tuesday for events ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, organizers said.

"Representatives of some 50 countries, including presidents and prime ministers, will participate in the events" on April 19, a week before the April 26 anniversary of the disaster, Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Voloshyn told AFP.

Among those taking part will be European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who will open a summit on civilian nuclear use, and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, who will be among those leading efforts to raise 740 million euros ($1.06 billion) to help pay for the construction of a new concrete shelter over the ruins of the Chernobyl site.

Organizers said Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev are also expected to take part.

April 26 will mark 25 years since the fourth reactor at a nuclear power station in the Ukrainian city of Chernobyl exploded, contaminating a swathe of Europe, with Ukraine, Belarus and Russia the worst affected.

The anniversary comes amid global concern over nuclear power after the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan's northeast was crippled by the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami.