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Powell, U.S. team to survey tsunami damage


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Colin Powell was scheduled to arrive Monday in the Indian Ocean region.
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Colin Powell
Disasters (General)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A U.S. delegation led by Secretary of State Colin Powell was expected to arrive Monday in Bangkok, Thailand, on the first stop of a tour to the tsunami-devastated regions of southern Asia.

Joining Powell is Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother who helped oversee disaster relief following deadly hurricanes in his state.

The delegation planned to visit the Thai island of Phuket before traveling to Jakarta, Indonesia, Powell told CBS' "Face the Nation."

On Thursday, Powell, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other world leaders are scheduled to attend a donor conference of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Jakarta. (Full story)

Powell said the U.S. delegation hoped to visit the Indonesian province of Aceh, which was badly damaged by the powerful waves.

Before returning to the United States on Friday, the delegation plans to stop in Sri Lanka, he said.

Others in the delegation include Mike Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency; Andrew Nations, director of the U.S. Agency for International Development; and James Kelly, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.

The death toll from the December 26 tsunamis stood at more than 156,000 on Monday. (Full story)

Bush told reporters before leaving Miami that the mission was to determine immediate and long-term relief and reconstruction needs, "and also to show that our country really cares."

"I know the president has deep concerns about what has happened," said Bush, whose state was battered by four major hurricanes over the summer. "And the fact that I'm his brother, symbolically, may give some people a sense that the president really does care, as he does."

He said the hurricane damage his state sustained "pales by comparison to what happened in these countries." Florida is expected to receive about $10 billion in disaster aid by the time reconstruction efforts are complete, the governor said.

On Sunday, Powell sharply rebutted criticism that the initial U.S. response to the disaster was slow and inadequate.

"I think that we have responded appropriately," he told CNN's "Late Edition," adding, "We're a little push-backy, I guess I can say, with respect to the claims that we didn't respond well. We did."

The United States has committed $350 million in relief funds, the largest contribution behind Japan's $500 million. (Full story)

The United Nations says a total of $2 billion has been promised.

U.S. military aid flights have delivered about 215 tons of relief supplies to the battered region, said Capt. Rodger Welch, a Navy operations officer in Hawaii. And a contingent of 200 Marine combat engineers based in Okinawa, Japan, will join the American task force already dispatched to the region to help distribute that aid, Welch said.

U.N. and regional leaders have praised the planned mission and U.S. support for the region.

U.N. emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland, who sparked international debate last week when he called wealthy nations "stingy" with foreign aid in general, told "Late Edition" the United States has been "ideal" in the way it has responded to the disaster.

"They have also provided military assets that we are reliant upon now, as we try to reach out to the most remote places in Sumatra and Aceh, which are the worst-hit of the areas," he said.


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