Condoleezza Rice: 'The President's heart aches to see people in need'

From remarks made by the US Secretary of State en route to Alabama to visit areas struck by Hurricane Katrina
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Americans don't want to see Americans suffer. And I just don't believe that people are saying, oh, well, those are African-Americans so we won't help - this was a disaster of enormous proportion and it overwhelmed the systems initially that were set up to deal with it.

Clearly, one of the questions that people will have to deal with is when you have a large-scale evacuation, the poor and the sick - of any colour - but particularly sick people and older people, are the ones who have difficulty getting out. And so I'm sure that everybody is going to take a hard look at how to do that better.

Nobody, most especially the President, would have left people unattended because of their race. It just isn't in his make-up or the makeup of the people at Fema [Federal Emergency Management Agency]. I just don't believe it. I think when people step back and look, there will be lots to understand about why people couldn't get out, but I don't think it had anything to do with race.

The lesson that I take from this is that all the years that America was the largest food aid donor and the largest donor of regional development, and people know that. They have said that America has been so generous in times like this in other places, and now it is time to be generous to America. We've received offers of assistance from some 70 countries, countries as powerful and big as France or China, and as small as the Bahamas, or one of the most touching ones for me was Sri Lanka, which is still recovering from its own natural disaster. They've offered a cash donation of $25,000.

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