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Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton talks with reporters January 16 at the Port-au-Prince airport with Haitian President René Préval.

Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton talks with reporters January 16 at the Port-au-Prince airport with Haitian President René Préval.

17 January 2010

Clinton Reassures Haitians of U.S. Support, January 17, 2010

By Merle David Kellerhals Jr.
Staff Writer

Washington — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton flew to Port-au-Prince for a brief visit January 16 that served to emphasize to the Haitian people that the United States was there to help and would stay as long as needed in the recovery.

“We are focused on providing humanitarian assistance, water, food, medical help, to those who are suffering,” Clinton told reporters at the Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince. “We are also working with the Haitian government on the continuing rescue of those who can be reached.”

Clinton flew into Port-au-Prince on a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 transport plane from Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen in Puerto Rico along with Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and relief supplies. Every military flight into Haiti carries relief supplies and carries out those needing medical attention in advanced treatment facilities.

Clinton met with Haitian President René Préval, U.S. officials and international officials at the airport to avoid disrupting relief operations, which are now operating 24 hours a day.

“We discussed the priorities of restoring communications, electricity and transportation,” Clinton said. “We agreed that we will be coordinating closely together to achieve these goals.”

“As President Obama has said, we will be here today, tomorrow and for the time ahead,” she added.

Préval thanked Clinton for the initial pledge of $100 million in U.S. assistance, and for the effort launched by Obama at the White House January 16 to raise additional funds worldwide through the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund that is being spearheaded by former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, the secretary’s husband.

“Mrs. Clinton’s visit really warms our heart today,” Préval told reporters.

After immediate relief efforts are addressed, Haitian government officials will coordinate with the United States and international partners on long-term recovery planning.

“Much of the work that will need to be done will be reconstruction and rebuilding,” Clinton said.

Clinton said the presence of U.S. military troops in Haiti is to assist with relief efforts and to provide support to a U.N. peacekeeping force of 7,000 personnel that is there to provide security in the absence of Haitian police. U.S. military forces are not going to replace the U.N. force, she said.

Help save lives in Haiti: Visit the White House Web site for options. The International Committee of the Red Cross provides a service to help people find loved ones and the State Department has a Person Finder where people can post information about persons missing in Haiti.

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