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Obama Pledges Sustained Commitment To Haiti

President Barack Obama is promising full U.S. support for Haiti's immediate recovery from Tuesday's earthquake, and for its long-term rebuilding. Mr. Obama discussed the catastrophe Friday with Haiti's president.

President Obama says the United States will fully back Haiti's rescue and recovery efforts, now and in the future.

"I pledged America's continued commitment to the government and to the people of Haiti, in the immediate effort to save lives and deliver relief, and in the long-term effort to rebuild," said President Obama.

The president thanked U.S. rescue workers, embassy staff and the thousands of members of the U.S. military arriving in Haiti for their work, and the American people for donating millions of dollars toward Haitian relief.

Mr. Obama says there is a huge task ahead.

"There are going to be many difficult days ahead," said Mr. Obama. "So many people are in need of assistance. The port continues to be closed and the roads are damaged. Food is scarce and so is water. It will take time to establish distribution points so that we can ensure that resources are delivered safely and effectively and in an orderly fashion."

Earlier Friday, Mr. Obama talked with Haitian President Rene Preval, after several days of efforts to reach his counterpart on the telephone. Mr. Preval lost his home when the presidential palace and government ministries collapsed in the quake.

The U.S. has provided communications equipment to the Haitian president, and has pledged $100 million to the country's recovery.

The president says Mr. Preval expressed his gratitude for the help.

"He said that he has been extremely touched by the friendship and the generosity of the American people," said President Obama. "It was an emotional moment."

Mr. Obama has also asked former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to lead private fundraising efforts to help Haiti recover. The three of them will meet at the White House on Saturday.

Mr. Obama had sharply criticized the response of Mr. Bush's government to Hurricane Katrina's devastation of the U.S. Gulf coast in 2005.

But Mr. Bush was praised for sending his father, former president George H.W. Bush, and his one-time political rival Mr. Clinton to Asia to aid the recovery from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.