Thursday, December 30, 2004

Colin Powell Speaks to 'Nightline'

Dec. 30, 2004 — Secretary of State Colin Powell talked about the tsunami disaster and U.S. relief efforts with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos. The following are excerpts from the interview.

Watch the full interview tonight on Nightline at 11:35 p.m. ET.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Today the death toll has climbed above 100,000. It's going to continue to climb. Are you confident that the U.S. aid effort matches the magnitude of this disaster?

COLIN POWELL: It's not just a U.S. aid effort, it's the international aid effort. And it's going to take a while to generate all the assets necessary to deal with this catastrophe — 110,000 is the last number I heard, and it'll probably rise some more; 5 million people who are without shelter right now, and a lot of people who are injured and in need; and economies that have to be restored, and homes that have to be rebuilt, schools and whatnot.

So we are scaling up our effort, and we will do what is necessary to show that the United States will be a leader in this effort.

STEPHANOPOULOS: [Former] Chancellor Kohl of Germany has talked about a debt moratorium. Is the United Nations open to that?

POWELL: Yes. We should look at that. I haven't gotten into the details of it yet, but we should look at debt relief, debt moratorium. We should look at humanitarian aid. We should look at reconstruction aid. We should look at redevelopment loans, how to help their economies that have been so hard hit.

And so this is a time for the entire international community to come together and help these people in need …

This is also a nation, the United States, that has given some $15 billion committed to HIV/AIDS relief. All of that is part of our development assistance.

So this administration has significantly increased the amount of money we are providing to the developing world. And we have been the leader in the amount of money that is given out for particular crises that come along — humanitarian crises.

Last year, as you heard the president say yesterday, $2.4 billion was given by the United States in response to tragedies that come along. Earlier this year, when the hurricanes swept through the Caribbean, we went, made assessments and everybody said, "You're not doing enough. You're not doing enough."

We put a few million dollars out. And when we got a good assessment of the need, $120 million has gone out. We found money within State Department and USAID accounts, and we went back to Congress to get more money.

And so it's a matter of making a good assessment of the need and then going and get the resources.

And the president has made it absolutely clear to me that we have made a good start, but it is not enough. We know it's not enough — $35 million doesn't even come near enough.

And we have to work with the Congress to make sure that they understand what the magnitude of the need might be and then to eventually get the money.

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