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US Working to Help Humanitarian Situation in Liberia, says White House


The White House said U.S. officials are working to improve the humanitarian situation in Liberia now that the country's president has left power.

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said President Bush welcomes the departure of Liberian President Charles Taylor, whose resignation Mr. Bush demanded as a precondition for U.S. involvement in a West African peacekeeping force.

Ms. Buchan said U.S. ships offshore and a small contingent of U.S. Marines are working with the regional alliance ECOWAS to speed the arrival of much-needed relief supplies. "We are working to ensure that humanitarian relief gets to those who need it. The people of Liberia have endured great suffering and we will work with ECOWAS partners to help ensure that that humanitarian relief gets to the people," she said.

President Taylor left Liberia Monday after protracted negotiations over his exile in Nigeria, complicated in part by Mr. Taylor's indictment on war crimes connected to the war in neighboring Sierra Leone.

Ms. Buchan said the Bush administration believes "all parties responsible for the atrocities in Sierra Leone must be held accountable," but she would not say whether Washington will now press Nigeria to turn Mr. Taylor over to the U.N. tribunal.