'Millions from Kerry-Lugar Bill will be diverted, with no strings attached'

Kerry has said millions of dollars bill will be diverted for flood aid, which will have no strings attached to it.


Express August 18, 2010

GHAZI AIR BASE: US Foreign Relations Committee head Senator John Kerry has said that millions of dollars from the Kerry-Lugar Bill will be diverted for flood aid, which will have no strings attached to it.

Addressing soldiers at the Ghazi air base, Kerry has said the US feels it is extremely crucial to invest in Pakistan and wants it to quickly deal with the flood situation.

Kerry, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and co-authored a record $7.5 billion aid bill for Pakistan, is the first senior US policymaker to visit since the disaster struck, affecting 20 million people.

He has said the floods are a diversion in Pakistan military's fight against militancy and that the US has national security interests in Pakistan and will help it combat the flood disaster.

The legislator is in Pakistan to have a first -hand assessment of the worst natural disaster to hit the country and to determine its impact on the region.

Kerry said that Hillary Clinton will announce $150 million in total emergency relief aid for Pakistan at the UN meeting to be held later today.

The visit is aimed to show US commitment and raise public awareness to drum up more donations for what has become Pakistan's worst ever natural disaster.

Pakistan is a top US foreign policy priority due to concerns over extremism as Washington tries to bring a swift end to the nine-year war against the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan.

The US government said it could divert part of its 7.5 billion dollar non-military aid programme for Pakistan into short-term relief.

The United States has so far provided about $90 million to support relief efforts in Pakistan, the embassy said. "There currently are 18 US military and civilian aircraft in Pakistan in support of flood relief operations, which evacuated 5,912 people and delivered 717,713 pounds of relief supplies," it said.

Hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis remain without food and shelter, and the United Nations is to meet on Thursday to drum up aid for the flood-stricken nation amid criticism of the slow pace of the relief effort.

Foreign aid has begun reaching some flood victims, but thousands are still exposed to the elements and desperately short of food and medicine, with concerns growing over the health of displaced survivors.

A US text-messaging donation campaign has raised 12,000 dollars for Pakistani flood victims, compared with more than $30 million for Haiti's earthquake earlier this year, according to State Department figures.

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