A U.N. body that coordinates international offers of help after major natural disasters has called for closer cooperation with Japan, hoping to learn from the response to the March 11 catastrophe and enhance its knowledge and expertise.

Rashid Khalikov, head of the Geneva branch of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said in an interview that the OCHA intends to use its office in Kobe to expand its relations with Japan, in an effort to improve disaster preparedness worldwide. Kobe was itself devastated by the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, he noted.

The Kobe office will study how "we can benefit from the national experience and expertise that Japan has gathered over many years through responding to natural disasters and building resilient local communities," said Khalikov, who is responsible for overseeing emergency responses and donor relations at the OCHA.