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Bush Pledges $320 Million for Afghan Refugee Relief - 2001-10-04

President Bush says the United States will provide $320 million in aid to the people of Afghanistan and to neighboring countries facing an influx of Afghan refugees. Mr. Bush made the announcement during an appearance at the State Department.

President Bush says America firmly opposes Afghanistan's Taleban rulers. But, he says, the United States will do all it can to help the Afghan people.

"America will stand strong and will oppose the sponsors of terror," said President Bush, "and America will stand strong and help those people who are hurt by those regimes."

He says there is no compassion in the United States for terrorists, but there is compassion for those who face extreme hardship through no fault of their own. "We will fight evil. But in order to overcome evil the great goodness of America must come forth and shine forth. And one way to do so is to help the poor souls in Afghanistan," said the president.

The President's aid package includes $295 million in new humanitarian assistance for Afghans facing drought, famine and the threat of war. An additional $25 million comes from an existing emergency fund for refugees.

Mr. Bush says the money will be used to buy food, medicine and other supplies. International aid agencies will handle the distribution. And assistance will be offered both in Afghanistan and in surrounding countries coping with large numbers of Afghan refugees. "We will make sure that not only the folks in Afghanistan who need help get help, but we will help those who have fled to neighboring countries to get help as well," he said.

President Bush also used his trip to the State Department to thank America's diplomats for their efforts to build an international coalition to fight terrorism. He said there has been progress, making specific mention of efforts to cut off the flow of money to terrorists, and collect information on their whereabouts. "This is a war between good and evil - and we have made it clear to the world that we will stand strong on the side of good and we expect other nations to join us," he said.

The President is continuing to engage in personal diplomacy on a daily basis. He conferred by telephone with the President of Poland and the emir of Bahrain before his speech at the State Department. He returned to the White House to prepare for meetings with Mexico's President and the Emir of Qatar.