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Asian Leaders Send Condolences to US Victims of Hurricane Katrina

  • Kurt Achin

Asian leaders are offering condolences and assistance to hurricane victims in the southeastern United States.

Here in South Korea, President Roh Moo-hyun is one of many Asian leaders offering messages of sympathy to those affected by Hurricane Katrina. Hundreds may have died in the storm or the floods that followed in the states of Louisiana and Mississippi this week.

Sun Mira, spokeswoman for the presidential Blue House in Seoul, says Mr. Roh has contacted President Bush.

Ms. Sun says President Roh wrote a letter to Mr. Bush expressing concern for those affected by the hurricane's damage and offering wishes for a speedy recovery for the region.

In Indonesia, officials were offering their sympathy and gratitude to the United States, which pledged more than $850 million in aid to the country earlier this year when it was hit by a massive tsunami.

Indonesia is still recovering from the vast destruction of last December's earthquake and tsunami, which claimed more than 100 000 lives and nearly wiped out dozens of coastal communities in Aceh province. A second earthquake did extensive damage a few months later to the island of Nias.

Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the director of the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR) in charge of rebuilding Aceh, met with diplomats at the U.S. embassy in Jakarta on Thursday.

"On behalf of the people of Aceh and Nias and also the BRR agency, we'd like to extend our deepest condolences with the people of America, especially who are living in New Orleans area, Louisiana area, and as well Alabama who are hit by the Hurricane Katrina there, so our prayers are with them and we do hope that they're still optimistic because I believe we can overcome all this problem," said Mr. Kuntoro.

Although his country is one of the poorest in Asia, Mr. Kuntoro said Indonesians would offer any help they could.

"America also helping us, and we don't have anything to help them so our prayers, our sympathies are with them. If they need anything from us, we are more than welcome to provide them," he said.

Chinese President Hu Jintao praised the resilience of Americans in a public message expressing confidence that they will rebuild their homes and lives.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard says he sent a personal message of sympathy to President Bush, and expressed condolences on behalf of all Australians to those affected by the disaster. Mr. Howard has long been a staunch ally of President Bush and Australia is one of the United States' leading allies.

Prime Minister Helen Clark of neighboring New Zealand offered a similar message of sympathy. Both nations say they are willing to offer emergency assistance if Washington requests it.

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