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Hurricane Katrina

Middle Eastern, European nations pledge oil, rations, bedding

Associated Press
Published September 5, 2005

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CAIRO, Egypt - Donations to Hurricane Katrina relief poured in from around the world Sunday, with Kuwait offering $500-million and other Mideast countries offering aid and condolences despite widespread opposition to U.S. policies in the area.

The European Union and NATO also stepped up to provide aid after rare requests for help from Washington, while the 22-member Arab League urged countries across the Middle East to "extend aid to the United States to face the exceptional humane circumstances."

Spain, Belgium, Britain, Germany and Italy announced they had started or were about to send aid and experts to the United States to help with the logistical operation of getting help to hurricane survivors.

Britain's Ministry of Defense said Sunday the government would send 500,000 ration packs.

Germany and Italy sent flights of supplies, including food rations, bed supplies, inflatable dinghies and water purifiers.

The $500-million offer by Kuwait - which owes its 1991 liberation from seven months of occupation by Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army to a U.S.-led coalition - is the largest to date, surpassing the $100-million pledged by Qatar, another U.S. ally in the Mideast.

"It's our duty as Kuwaitis to stand by our friends to lighten the humanitarian misery and as a payback for the many situations during which Washington helped us through," energy minister Sheik Ahmed Fahd Al Ahmed Al Sabah said in a statement.

Kuwait's offer includes $400-million in oil products and $100-million in humanitarian relief, Al Sabah's spokesman told the Associated Press.

Another close U.S. ally, the United Arab Emirates, is sending tents, clothing, food and other aid.

Bitter U.S. foes Iran and North Korea - which Washington pressured over their respective nuclear programs - offered to help rescue efforts, and Syria - another longtime opponent - was among numerous Middle Eastern states offering condolences.

And Arab League chief Amr Moussa said the Arab world should support the United States, which "always expresses solidarity with nations that face natural catastrophes and extends most of the aid they receive."

[Last modified September 5, 2005, 01:16:12]

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