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International Aid Summit Formally Opens In Jakarta

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has formally opened an emergency international aid conference Thursday in Jakarta for victims of the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. Leaders agree coordinated action is needed urgently.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, speaking at the Jakarta conference, says nearly $1 billion in aid money needs to be spent right now to meet the most immediate humanitarian needs.

The earthquake and tsunami killed an estimated 150,000 people in 12 Indian Ocean nations and left millions homeless when it struck December 26.

World leaders at the one-day meeting are coordinating the biggest global relief effort in history, and how to spend more than three billion dollars in pledges on both short and long term needs.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the summit host whose country was hardest hit, says unprecedented disaster requires an unprecedented response. "We face the challenge of rehabilitating human lives and human communities," he said. "Infrastructures must be rebuilt, and sources of livelihood must be reestablished."

President Yudhoyono also says a tsunami early warning system is needed to prevent future tragedies.