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Tsunami Relief Meeting

The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:

Representatives from more than twenty countries, including the United States, Britain, France, Germany, and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, met in Jakarta, Indonesia, to discuss ways to help countries hit by the December 26th earthquake-induced tidal waves, or tsunamis. The host of the meeting was Indonesia's president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono:

"This is an initiative of friendly nations to mobilize global funds to assist countries hit by the quake and tsunamis."

The countries hardest hit are Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and India. More than one-hundred-fifty-thousand people died and millions more are without shelter and in need of food and drinking water. At the Jakarta summit, it was determined that the United Nations will coordinate relief efforts. U-N Secretary-General Kofi Annan says that countries must "stop the tsunami from being followed by a second wave of death from preventable causes," such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery. "Together," says Mr. Annan, "we have the power to stop these next waves":

"To protect the maximum number of lives, to restore dignity and hope, our assistance must be timely and well-coordinated."

So far, governments have pledged nearly three-billion dollars in aid to countries hit by the tsunamis. Britain, France and Germany have also proposed debt relief and pledged up to three-billion dollars a year for rebuilding loans. Some experts estimate that the total cost of rebuilding the affected areas could reach fourteen billion dollars.

The U-S has committed three-hundred-fifty million dollars, and sent thirteen-thousand troops and fourteen ships to the scene of the disaster. Secretary of State Colin Powell says the U.S. is speeding up relief efforts:

"One of the concerns that we discussed is to make sure we have an adequate number of flights. . . .and I think we can increase throughout, as it's called, the rate of arrival of planes and supplies."

President George W. Bush has made it clear that the U.S. is going to do whatever it takes to help the countries devastated by the tsunamis get back on their feet.