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International Aid Offers “Compassionate” and Being Reviewed


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the U.S. State Department is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate international offers of help with the needs on the ground in the wake of Hurricane Katrina's devastation in the southern U.S.

More than 50 countries have offered the United States assistance in the Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. Secretary of State Rice says the U.S. is deeply grateful.

"Recently, we have seen the American people respond generously to help others around the globe during their times of distress, such as during the recent Tsunami. Today, we are seeing a similar urgent, warm and compassionate reaction from the international community in response to Katrina."

Secretary Rice told reporters in Washington Friday, the U.S. has "turned down no offers." Dozens of countries have said they will send cash, fuel and humanitarian assistance to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

She said the State Department is working with federal emergency officials to determine which offers should be accepted right away -- to address immediate needs, and which would better meet longer term needs.

Among the offers -- technical assistance from the Netherlands, a low-lying country that, like the city of New Orleans, relies on a series of dikes and levees to exist. Secretary Rice said she was particularly touched by tsunami-battered Sri Lanka's donation of $25,000.

Ms. Rice -- the first African American female Secretary of State, who grew up in the American South -- was asked about the growing controversy over what many are calling the slow and inadequate government response to the crisis -- in which poor blacks seem to be suffering the most.

"Nobody wants to see any American suffer,” said the secretary. “But it's a deeply emotional time. This part of the country has been very hard hit. This is something we haven't seen in the United States. And as a result, I think there's a lot of emotion. But I can tell you that everybody is doing everything possible and everybody wants to see these people taken care of."

Secretary Rice also said she will travel to her home state of Alabama to tour the disaster area there and to meet with senior officials as well as victims of the hurricane.

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