President Bush Tells Asian Leaders U.S. is Committed to Helping in Wake of Devastation

December 29, 2004

President George W. Bush told Asian leaders that the United States is committed to helping their countries following Sunday’s earthquake and killer tsunamis that have killed more than 60,000 people.

The following is a transcript of a statement by President Bush on the recent earthquake and tsunamis released on Wednesday from Crawford, Texas.

THE PRESIDENT: “Good morning. Laura and I and the American people are shocked and we are saddened by the terrible loss of life from the recent earthquake and the tsunamis in the Indian Ocean. Our prayers go out to the people who have lost so much to this series of disasters. Our hearts are also with the Americans who have lost loved ones in this tragedy. Our embassies are working with host governments to locate American citizens who are still missing and to assist those who have been injured or displaced.

“This morning, I spoke with the leaders of India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia, and expressed my condolences and our country’s condolences. I told them of our support; I praised their steadfast leadership during these difficult times. We’re grateful to the American and international organizations that are working courageously to save lives and to provide assistance, and I assured those leaders this is only the beginning of our help.

“We are committed to helping the affected countries in the difficult weeks and months that lie ahead. We pledged an initial $35 million in relief assistance. We have deployed disaster experts to the region. All leaders expressed their appreciation for the hard work of our ambassadors and their embassy staffs to help the countries in need. As well, we’re dispatching a Marine expeditionary unit, the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, and the Maritime pre-position squadron from Guamto the area to help with relief efforts.

“Secretary Powell is working hard. He has spoken with his counterparts in Japan, India, Australia, as well as other nations who are helping with the response in order to begin building an international coalition for immediate humanitarian relief and long-term recovery and reconstruction efforts. Based on these discussions, we’ve established a regional core group with India, Japan and Australia to help coordinate relief efforts. I’m confident more nations will join this core group in short order. Under Secretary of State Mark Grossman will lead a U.S. task force to work with these partners to help coordinate interagency response in our own government and to encourage other nations to participate in the relief efforts.

“These past few days have brought loss and grief to the world that is beyond our comprehension. The United States will continue to stand with the affected governments as they care for the victims. We will stand with them as they start to rebuild their communities. And together the world will cope with their loss; we will prevail over this destruction.”

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