Bush promises $350 million to the South Asia

President Bush is promising $350 million to help victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami, as the death toll across a dozen countries approaches 125,000. Secretary of State &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/04/17/27703.html ' target=_blank>Colin Powell will be leading a U.S. delegation to South Asia to assess what is needed most.

President Bush says initial U.S. assessments indicate that the need for financial and other help will steadily increase in the days and weeks ahead.

In a written statement from his Texas ranch, Mr. Bush committed $350 million to fund the U.S. portion of the relief effort, and said those contributions will continue to be revised as the full effects of the tragedy become clearer.

The new aid figure is 10 times the $35 million that Washington initially pledged. That first amount drew some criticism, considering the size and wealth of the United States when compared to Britain's pledge of $95 million, or Sweden's pledge of $75 million, reports Chosun Ilbo.

"This tenfold increase is indicative of American generosity, but it also is indicative of the need," Powell said Friday after meeting with &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2002/06/27/31251.html ' target=_blank>U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in New York. "The need is great and not just for immediate relief but for long-term reconstruction, rehabilitation, family support (and) economic support that's going to be needed for these countries to get back up on their feet."

Powell suggested the United States might be willing to give even more aid, saying, "I'm not sure $350 (million) is the end number. It's the number that we've settled on for now."

The administration has been reeling from complaints that the president was too slow to come before TV cameras to address the crisis and that the administration's initial offers of financial assistance were paltry, informs San Francisco Chronicle.

To help the survivors, the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/mailbox/ 22/98/387/12447_USMilitary.html ' target=_blank>U.S. military has launched one of its largest disaster relief missions in history. At the same time, Canada and the Netherlands have joined a core group that the United States formed earlier this week with India, Japan and Australia to help coordinate relief efforts with the United Nations.

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