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US Ex-Presidents Clinton, Bush to visit Sri Lanka

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 16 February 2005, 18:14 GMT]
Former Presidents of the United States, Bill Clinton (1993-2001) and George H.W.Bush(1989-1993) are expected to arrive in Sri Lanka during the weekend as part of their tour of South Asian nations hit by Tsunami, diplomatic sources in Colombo said.

President George W Bush appointed the ex-presidents to lead the effort in the US for raising private funds to help tsunami victims.

"The former Presidents will arrive Sunday late afternoon and hold an evening meeting with President Chandrika Kumaratunga. On Monday morning, they will tour tsunami-affected areas in or near Matara, in southern Sri Lanka, and then depart for the Maldives," a US embassy press release said on Thursday.

"This visit comes at the request of current President Bush and is not connected to any role President Clinton might take up with the United Nations once he returns to the United States," the release said.

The two former Presidents will visit sites in the Matara district, including a debris-clearing project near Matara Fort where USAID is providing cash-for-work and equipment to people affected by the tsunami to help expedite the clean up.

The US Government has pledged nearly US $900m for the relief and reconstruction of the tsunami affected nations.

A report produced by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Japan Bank for International Cooperation estimated that the financing needs for sectors excluding tourism, environment and agriculture for the NorthEast (Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Amparai, Jaffna, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu) is 64%, the South (Matara, Hambantota and Galle) 25.9% and the West (Kalutara, Colombo, Gampaha and Puttalam) is 10.1% of the total need for Sri Lanka.

For health, education, housing, power, water and sanitation, fisheries, tourism, roads and railways, the financing needs as detailed in the same report are: NorthEast 58.3%, South 29.1% and West 12.6%.

The report estimated that the direct loss for the whole of Sri Lanka due to tsunami is about US$1 billion (4.5% of the GDP), and that the financing needs for reconstruction is about US $1.5 billion.


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