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Obama White House full court press on Haiti earthquake relief efforts

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WASHINGTON--The Obama administration is putting a major focus on Haiti earthquake relief efforts, pulling in former President Clinton, the U.N. envoy to Haiti in the response.Obama will provide an update on the U.S. assistance on Thursday morning.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on CNN, CBS and NBC morning shows briefed on what the Obama team was doing.

On CNN she said, "We've got a very coordinated, aggressive response going on. We have sent some of our crack search and rescue teams into Port-au- Prince. They're beginning their work. We're coordinating with the Haitian president, President Preval. Unfortunately, as you know, the government buildings were terribly damaged by the earthquake. A lot of government members unaccounted for, no communication system. We're supplying a communication system so they can begin to get up and running.

"We're working with the United Nations, which was equally devastated by the collapse of their headquarters.

"So the authorities that existed before the earthquake are not able to fully function. We're going to try to support them as they reestablish authority.

"The U.N. peacekeepers, about 7,000 of them, commanded by a Brazilian general, are beginning to clear the roads.

"Our Coast Guard has been unbelievable. They got there first, as you might guess, being in the area. We've got the 82nd Airborne and other military assets coming in. We had a military team reopen the airport so we can start to handle the big, heavy planes.

"There's an enormous amount of work going on. I'm very proud of our response. We're grateful for the international response. But I think we have a long way ahead of us. The next 24 hours is critical to save those lives that can be saved. We know that from other earthquake and other disasters.

"But then we have a long way back to try to deal with the devastation of the loss of, you know, life and infrastructure.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on January 14, 2010 8:44 AM.

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