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Pakistan Accepts India's Offer of Flood Aid

Pakistan says it will accept $5 million in flood aid from India, a rare gesture of goodwill between the longtime rivals as Pakistan deals with one of the worst disasters in its history.

In an interview with India's NDTV television Friday, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi called the aid a "very welcome initiative."

Spokesman for India's foreign office Vishnu Prakash called the flood aid a "goodwill gesture in the spirit of solidarity" with the people of Pakistan. The nuclear-armed nations have fought three wars.

Monsoon rains triggered the floods which have killed up to 1,600 people and affected 20 million people in one-fifth of Pakistan's territory. The disaster has marooned villages, wiped out infrastructure, destroyed crops and killed livestock.

The United Nations says eight million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, and has appealed for $460 million in international aid. Roughly 60-percent of that goal has been given or pledged.

The World Health Organization's representative in Pakistan Guido Sabatinelli Friday urged nations to give, saying drugs to combat water-borne diseases can not be bought with pledges.

The United States led a series of new international aid pledges during Friday's special session of the U.N. General Assembly. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the disaster a slow-moving tsunami.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi told the assembly that the floods, which have caused losses exceeding $43 billion, hit the country at a time when the government is fighting a war against extremists and terrorists. He said the militants must not be allowed to exploit the disaster.

Pakistani officials are due to meet with the International Monetary Fund next week for talks on easing the terms of a $10 billion loan.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.