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US Increases Aid to Cyclone Victims in Burma to $3 Million

The United States has increased its assistance to the victims of the cyclone in Burma by $3 million.

Washington has already contributed $250,000 to the relief effort, and U.S. President George Bush Tuesday said the U.S. wants to do more.

At the White House Tuesday, Mr. Bush expressed his heartfelt sympathy to the Burmese people and called on Burma's military government to allow U.S. disaster teams into the country.

Defense Department spokesman Geoff Morrell says the Pentagon is now working with the State Department and U.S. Pacific Command to at least begin the planning for a possible humanitarian assistance mission.

He told reporters Tuesday that the planning is all the United States can do at the moment, since the U.S. government has not received a request from the Burmese government for aid.

Earlier Tuesday, President Bush signed legislation authorizing the presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal to Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

He described the Nobel Peace Prize laureate as a courageous woman who speaks for freedom, and a powerful voice in contrast to the ruling military government in Burma.

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor bestowed by the U.S. Congress.

The pro-democracy leader, who is currently under house arrest in Rangoon, has been in detention for 12 of the last 18 years. Her National League for Democracy party won national elections in 1990, but the military refused to recognize the results.