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Cuban to send doctors to US for hurricane relief effort
Updated: 2005-09-03 16:01

US thanks dozens of foreign countries for aid

The United States on Friday thanked dozens of foreign governments -- rich and poor, enemy and friend -- for their offers to help the world's wealthiest country recover from devastating Hurricane Katrina.

US Army National Guard soldiers assist stranded victims of Hurricane Katrina outside the New Orleans Convention Center. Thousands of troops poured into the city to help with security and delivery of supplies in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. [AFP]

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said just as the United States responded generously to disasters worldwide, so had nearly 60 nations come to America's side after Hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans and other parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast, killing hundreds and possibly thousands of people.

"Today, we are seeing a similar urgent, warm and compassionate reaction from the international community in response to Katrina," Rice told a news conference.

Rice said no aid had been turned down and she was particularly moved by an offer from Sri Lanka, itself recovering from last year's Indian Ocean tsunami.

"Every contribution is important," said Rice, who plans to visit some of the stricken areas over the weekend in Alabama, where her own family comes from.

The State Department has set up a task force to cope with the dozens of offers coming in from foreign nations, trying to match them up with needs on the ground.

Embassies in the U.S. capital have swamped the department with offers, ranging from cash donations to helicopters, tents and medical teams.

While help has come from longtime American friends such as Japan, Germany, Canada, France and Britain, offers have also been made by critics of the U.S. government, including Cuba and Venezuela.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez offered to send cheap fuel but the State Department said a decision had not been made on whether to accept this offer.

Rice canceled her vacation this week and returned to work when the devastation from the hurricane became clear. She said she had spoken via telephone to her counterparts in a number of foreign capitals.

"In my discussions with my counterparts, I've been heartened at their offers of both short-term and long-term support," she said.

The State Department has also been trying to track down all of its 165 employees who work at a busy passport office in New Orleans and has tried to secure the office from looters.

In addition, State Department specialists who usually are used abroad in disasters have been assigned to help with the relief efforts.

The department said offers of help had been received from: Australia, Austria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Belgium, Canada, China, Columbia, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, the European Union, France, Germany, Guatemala, Greece, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, NATO, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Organization of American States, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, South Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Health Organization.

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