Aid offers received from more than 90 countries, U.S. says

More than 90 countries have offered assistance to victims of Hurricane Katrina, with Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates contributing $100 million (Ђ80 million) each in cash donations, the State Department said Tuesday.

The United States eagerly accepted a German offer of high speed pumps to reduce the floodwaters in New Orleans and of experts on levee reconstruction from the Netherlands.

"There is a process of matching needs with expertise and the donations that have been made," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

He indicated that the U.S. health care system is meeting current needs stemming from the hurricane. That could mean that offers of medical experts from Cuba and other countries will not be accepted but McCormack said no decisions have been made.

He said decision on proposals from foreign government will be based on needs and not political considerations. Cuba has offered 1,100 doctors for hurricane relief despite the hostile political relations between the two countries.

Cuba has repeatedly rejected U.S. offers of humanitarian relief from the United States over the years.

Citgo, a subsidiary of Venezuela National Oil Company, is working directly with the Louisiana state government on assisting hurricane victims, McCormack said. Venezuela has also had tense relations with the government of President George W. Bush.

Separately, Venezuela has offered planeloads of soldiers and aid workers.

"Any offers of support that could potentially benefit the people who've been victimized by this storm have been accepted," McCormack said.

Commenting on the outpouring of international support, McCormack said the American people "can take great heart from the fact that when we need help, when we need assistance, the world is answering the call."

Other countries that have offered cash assistance, he said, are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, the Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, and South Korea.

Contributions made through the Red Cross have been received from Australia, China, India, Ireland, Japan, Maldives, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Helicopters from Canada and Singapore are already in the affected area carrying out relief work, McCormack said. Air Canada planes have been evacuating victims since Saturday, he added.

Meals-ready-to-eat, or MRE's, have been received from meals-ready-to-eat, MREs, from Germany, Italy, Mexico and the United Kingdom, AP reported.

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