Leahy calls for increased aid to south Asia

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(Host) Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is calling on the Bush administration to dramatically increase disaster relief to south Asia. Leahy says he’s concerned that the administration will dip into important foreign aid programs to fund the relief — or fail to provide enough money to stricken countries.

Instead, Leahy says the administration should redirect some of the billions of dollars set aside for Iraq reconstruction. Leahy says much of the money will never be spent.

(Leahy) “We ought to take some of that and transfer it, which we can do very easily, into this and set an example for the rest of the world. Right now nations are giving a lot more per-capita.”

(Host) In a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell, Leahy says the U.S. should play a central role in relief efforts. Leahy is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operation Subcommittee.

So far the U.S. has allocated $35 million for south Asia disaster relief. President Bush says the nation is prepared to send much more to help victims of flooding triggered by earthquakes.

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