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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 October 2005, 07:44 GMT 08:44 UK
Bush in new visit to New Orleans
President Bush near New Orleans
The president visited a site where new homes were being built
President George W Bush has made his eighth visit to the southern US coast since Hurricane Katrina struck.

New Orleans officials, including Mayor Ray Nagin, briefed him on progress in reconstruction projects.

The president said Washington would fully support the local efforts to rebuild the region.

Correspondents say Mr Bush wants to show a hands-on approach to the recovery effort, after receiving heavy criticism for his initial response.

"If I didn't respond well enough, I'm going to learn the lessons," the president told NBC's Today show.

Nearly 1,200 people are known to have died in New Orleans and surrounding areas of Louisiana and Mississippi.

Much of New Orleans was devastated by flooding. Many areas remain uninhabitable, and a number of stores and businesses are still closed.

The White House says the federal government is particularly keen to find out how local leaders are addressing housing needs in New Orleans.

President Bush said he had told Mayor Nagin he wanted to cut federal interference in the reconstruction.

"I don't think Washington ought to dictate to New Orleans how to rebuild," he said.

'Open exchange'

President Bush spent Monday meeting local officials to discuss problems associated with housing, insurance and repairing the city's system of ruptured levees.

White House spokesman Trent Duffy said it was an "open exchange".

"The American people have their arms out. We want you to know that a lot of people care," Mr Bush told the officials, according to the spokesman.

The US president then travelled by helicopter to the New Orleans Convention Center.

Correspondents say this place became a symbol of the slow relief effort, as city residents waited there for days to be evacuated.

During his two-day trip, Mr Bush also visited other communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

He hammered nails into boards for a home in Covington, Louisiana, and visited a school in Mississippi.

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