News

US Defense Official Vows Quick Exit From Tsunami Relief Work

Ron Corben

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz says the United States will withdraw its troops from tsunami relief operations in Asia as "soon as possible". Mr. Wolfowitz made his first stop in Bangkok, on a regional tour to assess how the military is aiding countries hit by the December 26 earthquake and tsunami.

During his stopover in Bangkok Saturday, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz met with Thai Defense Minister General Samphan Boonyanant to assess overall relief efforts in Thailand and the Indian Ocean region following the December 26 disaster.

The United States is mobilizing its largest military operation in Asia in more than 30 years, using the Thai Air Force Base Utapao as its staging ground. So far, more than three million tons of relief supplies have passed through Utapao.

But Mr. Wolfowitz says a key aim is for the U.S. military to pass on relief responsibilities to other governments and organizations in the region as soon as possible.

"Ultimately the key here is to make sure the people who are suffering, the people who need to recover have the assistance they need," he said.

He praised Indonesia's decision this week to set March 31 as a deadline for foreign troops to exit the aid operation.

"My sense of the comments that you heard from Indonesia wasn't that they're setting arbitrary deadlines," Mr. Wolfowitz said, "so much as they are setting goals and expressing their own desire to take on responsibility in their own countries as quickly as possible and we applaud that."

The death toll from the disaster now exceeds more than 160,000 with millions of people homeless.

Mr. Wolfowitz says on this tour he wants to look at how the United States can best aid the region's future recovery.

"The principal focus of this trip is to look ahead and think about how we can make sure that the medium and longer term needs are met and met as much as possible with local resources, and with civilian resources and with non-governmental resources," he said.

The United States has spent $92 million of the $350 million of tsunami relief aid promised by President Bush. Some 15,000 troops, 21 ships, 41 airplanes and 50 helicopters have been sent to assist in the relief work in the region.

 

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs