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US Sends Aid, Assessment Teams, to Tsunami-stricken Region

The United States is mounting an emergency aid effort for the South and East Asian countries hit by Tsunamis. Assessment teams from the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, are heading to the region.

Officials here say U.S. ambassadors in the region have tapped discretionary funds to send an initial $400,000 in disaster aid to Sri Lanka, the Maldives, India and Indonesia.

Talks are underway, meanwhile, with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on a $4 million U.S. pledge in response to a worldwide appeal for aid by that organization.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, cutting short holiday leave plans, returned to his office Monday and telephoned foreign ministers in the stricken area to offer U.S. condolences and assistance.

The U.S. aid agency is sending emergency assessment teams to the region, initially to Thailand and Sri Lanka but also to other hard-hit countries in the next few days. The agency is advising private Americans wishing to help tsunami victims to send cash contributions to international relief groups and posted a list of those working on the tsunami disaster on its website.

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