In a dramatic turnabout, the United States is now on the receiving end of help from around the world as some two dozen countries offer post-hurricane assistance.
Venezuela, a target of frequent criticism by the Bush administration, offered humanitarian aid and fuel. Venezuela’s Citgo Petroleum Corp. pledged a $1 million donation for hurricane aid.
With offers from the four corners of the globe pouring in, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has decided “no offer that can help alleviate the suffering of the people in the afflicted area will be refused,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Thursday.
However, in Moscow, a Russian official said the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency had rejected a Russian offer to dispatch rescue teams and other aid.
Condolences and cash
On Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin sent condolences to President Bush and said Russia was prepared to help if asked.
Boats, aircraft, tents, blankets, generators, cash assistance and medical teams have been offered to the U.S. government in Washington or in embassies overseas.
Offers have been received from Russia, Japan, Canada, France, Honduras, Germany, Venezuela, Jamaica, Australia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Greece, Hungary, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, China, South Korea, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, NATO and the Organization of American States, the spokesman said.
Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon called Wednesday at the State Department to offer condolences and assistance. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. aid, about $2.2 billion a year.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has offered the U.S. hundreds of doctors, nurses, experts in trauma and natural disasters, NBC News has learned. Sharon has also offered field hospitals and medical kits as well as temporary housing and told Bush in a letter that the medical assistance and other help could be deployed within 24 hours.
Still, Bush told ABC-TV: “I’m not expecting much from foreign nations because we hadn’t asked for it. I do expect a lot of sympathy and perhaps some will send cash dollars. But this country’s going to rise up and take care of it.”
“You know,” he said, “we would love help, but we’re going to take care of our own business as well, and there’s no doubt in my mind we’ll succeed. And there’s no doubt in my mind, as I sit here talking to you, that New Orleans is going to rise up again as a great city.”
Historically, the United States provides assistance to other countries experiencing earthquakes, floods and other disasters.
Germany, which was rebuilt after World War II largely by the U.S. Marshall Plan, offered its help in a telephone call to Rice.
“The German Government is prepared to do all that is humanly possible,” the German embassy said. In his call, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer assured Rice of Germany’s solidarity with its American friends in a difficult time, the embassy said.