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Donations to tsunami relief 'generous,' U.N. says

Colin Powell
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Colin Powell

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The United Nations' emergency relief coordinator said Tuesday that the international response to the tsunami catastrophe in southern Asia has been "very generous" despite earlier comments in which he called some nations "stingy."

"The international assistance that has come and been pledged from the United States, from Europe and from countries in the region has also been very generous," Jan Egeland said in brief remarks at the world body's headquarters.

"I have been misinterpreted when I yesterday said that my belief that rich countries in general can be more generous. This has nothing to do with any particular country or the response to this emergency. We're in early days and the response has so far been overwhelmingly positive," he added.

Monday, Egeland called for a major international response to the tsunami disaster -- and went so far as to call the U.S. government and others "stingy" on foreign aid in general.

"If, actually, the foreign assistance of many countries now is 0.1 or 0.2 percent of the gross national income, I think that is stingy, really," he said. "I don't think that is very generous."

In an interview Monday night with CNN, Egeland reiterated his view: "It bothers me that we -- the rich nations -- are not becoming more generous the more rich we become."

His remarks prompted U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on Tuesday to assert that the United States is "not stingy" when it comes to providing aid to countries in distress.

Powell said the United States has responded with help for countries devastated by the weekend's tsunamis and will continue to assess the situation with an eye toward providing more aid.

"The United States is not stingy. We are the greatest contributor to international relief efforts in the world," he said.

Powell told CNN's "American Morning" that the catastrophe was "unprecedented in scope and scale."

He said the United States had responded to an appeal by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent by providing $4 million of the $7 million it initially requested worldwide.

The U.S. State Department said an additional $20 million in aid will be added to the $15 million the United States has already pledged for nations hit by the tsunamis.

In addition, said Powell, nine patrol planes and 12 C-130 cargo planes packed with relief supplies were on their way to southern Asia.

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