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U.S. delivers medical aid to Beirut

Israel agrees to open aid routes into Lebanon



BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- The U.S. government Tuesday turned over its first shipment of aid for Lebanon to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The $30 million worth of medical kits will serve the basic needs of some 20,000 Lebanese citizens for about three months, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman said.

Shipment of blankets and rolls of plastic sheeting was expected to begin Tuesday, as well, according to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.

Distribution will be handled by the Red Cross because it is "equipped to know where the needs are greatest for these goods and how to get them there," Feltman said. (Watch U.S. troops deliver aid by chopper -- 1:32)

Also contributing aid were the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, which donated $2.7 million, and the European Commission, which donated $10 million to organizations in Lebanon and other countries, according to The Daily Star, a Lebanese newspaper.

The paper quoted government sources as saying that the Arab Fund for Economic Development has donated $10.5 million to the relief effort and is ready to provide $100 million in soft loans for the reconstruction of Lebanon.

Israeli officials Tuesday agreed to take measures to get humanitarian aid into Lebanon, a senior U.S. State Department official said.

According to the official, who read from an Israeli statement, the Israelis agreed to:

  • Expand corridors in Lebanon to deliver aid.
  • Allow airplanes to land at Beirut's airport with advanced coordination.
  • Establish a ground corridor from Israel into Lebanon for the transfer of international assistance.
  • "[U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice made humanitarian corridors one of her top priorities on her trip to Israel to make sure that we had good coordination with the government of Israel and that the government of Israel recognizes the importance of getting supplies to civilians in need," Feltman said. (Full story on Rice's mission)

    The announcement of the U.S. aid shipment followed a U.N. appeal Monday for nearly $150 million in humanitarian aid. Nearly $24 million of that is designated for children affected by the crisis.

    The aid shipment was taken from Cyprus to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut on a U.S. military helicopter. But the Pentagon said it does not expect to run many missions into Beirut and wants to get the military footprint off of the relief effort.

    Aid workers planned to run convoys of trucks from Beirut to Tyre, in southern Lebanon, on Wednesday and Friday, U.N. humanitarian relief coordinator Jan Egeland said in Cyprus.

    Each truck is expected to carry 10 tons of supplies, with medical supplies, water-purification equipment and flour in the first run, he said.

    Organizers hope to have up to 100 trucks taking part in the convoys.

    Egeland has been calling for a cease-fire since the conflict began, July 12. The damage inflicted on Lebanon in the past two weeks is "far beyond what we normally see in wars," he said.

    "[Israeli attacks have] to be more targeted to those armed groups, and those armed groups have to be pressurized by the whole national community -- including those states who back them -- to stop the nonsense that has inflicted so much pain on their own people and on the peoples on both sides of the border," he said.

    CNN's Barbara Starr, Chris Burns, Jamie McIntyre and Elise Labott contributed to this report.

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