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Remarks of MEA Spokesperson on Tsunami Core Group discussions

New Delhi
January 1, 2005

- The following took part in the tele-conference held at 0830 hours on Saturday, 1 January 2005 as members of the Tsunami Conference:

i) Mr. Marc Grossman, Under Secretary of State of U.S.;

ii) Mr. Shigekazu Sato, Director General of the Economic Cooperation Bureau of the Japanese Foreign Office;

iii) Mr. Douglas Chester, Permanent Secretary, Australian Foreign Office;

iv) Mr. Jan Egeland, UN Coordinator for Disaster Relief;

v) Mr. Shyam Saran, Foreign Secretary of India.

- Mr. Grossman introduced two additional new members of the Core Group:

i) Mr. Jan Berteling, Director Humanitarian Relief efforts of The Netherlands; and

ii) Mr. Peter Harder, Canadian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

- Mr.Grossman said that the United States was pledging $ 350 million towards relief efforts and this had been announced by Secretary of State Powell. Powell had also met United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan in New York on December 31 and had conveyed the full support of the Core Group to UN efforts.

- Mr. Egeland conveyed that there had been outpouring of pledges of assistance and todate this was already $ 1.2 billion, which is best ever response in any natural disaster so far.

- He said that the offers of emergency assistance could be made to either the UN Headquarters itself in New York or alternatively to a Coordination Cell which had been set up in Bangkok.

- Mr. Egeland also mentioned that a special logistics hub was being created at Subang airport outside Kuala Lumpur. Material from all over the world could be flown into Subang as the collection point and then ferry across to Aceh and other areas in Sumatra, which are the worst hit. He mentioned that a Hotel Ship which was currently outside Singapore, was being hired to serve as a 1000-bed hospital, to be anchored at Bandar Aceh. It also had the capacity to produce several thousand gallons of fresh water every day.

- During the discussion it was also agreed that for purposes of coordination amongst members, the Utapao base in Thailand could be the ideal location.

- Egeland conveyed that the Flash Appeal that was scheduled for January 6 in New York would now be launched at Jakarta itself during the Summit. This Flash Appeal is basically for emergency assistance for the first six months. According to Egeland, the Pledging Conference would still be held in Geneva on January 11, 2005 and this would be followed by an appeal for reconstruction assistance sometime in February 2005.

- A reference was made to the query that Foreign Secretary had raised about the possibility of a floating Seismic/Tsunami research vessel which could be deployed in the Indian Ocean region, to monitor possible after-shocks and Tsunami recurrence. The US, Australian and Japanese representatives conveyed that their scientists could not find any stop-gap arrangement which could serve the purpose and that effort would need to be focused on medium to long-term measures.