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Tuesday, March 9, 1999 Published at 03:31 GMT


World: Americas

Clinton promises Mitch aid

President Clinton: Mobbed in Posoltega

President Bill Clinton has vowed to work with Central American countries devastated by Hurricane Mitch until the region has recovered.

Hurricane Mitch
The president promised to lower some trade barriers to help the region sell more goods.

And he has asked Congress to approve an aid package worth almost $1bn, although political wrangling in Washington has so far delayed the release of the funds.


The BBC's Simon Jones: President Clinton paid tribute to a small girl who died in the hurricane
Mr Clinton was speaking in Nicaragua as he started a whistle-stop tour of the countries worst hit by Mitch.

He said: "I have come to pay my respects to those who lost their lives and to reaffirm the support of the American people for those who were spared and for your re-building.


President Clinton: "You deserve the world's support"
"You have earned the world's admiration and now you deserve the world's support in this moment of need.

"You will overcome this adversity. And we will work with you every day until the task is done."


[ image: Wreath-laying: The president remembers]
Wreath-laying: The president remembers
Mr Clinton laid a wreath at a memorial to the dead in Posoltega where more than 2,000 people were killed in a mudslide. Across the region Mitch claimed more than 9,000 lives.

The US has already allocated $305m to help victims of Mitch - the largest disaster relief package ever offered by the US to foreign countries.

During his four-day tour Mr Clinton will also visit Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

In Honduras, he will visit the Sotukana military base, the focal point for the US relief effort to help all the countries battered by Mitch.


Clive Myrie in Posoltega: "Aid is badly needed"
In El Salvador and Guatemala, the emphasis will be on what can be done to help the region in the longer term. Initiatives to expand trade, investment opportunities, and environmental protection measures will be under discussion.

On Thursday he will take part in a summit in Guatemala with regional leaders, looking at longer term financial assistance and the need to expand investment and trade opportunities.



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Internet Links


UN Hurricane Mitch Information Centre

The White House

Disaster Relief


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