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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 2, 2001

Statement by the President
Relief and Reconstruction Assistance for El Salvador

I had a good meeting today with El Salvador's President Francisco Flores. I commended him for the strong leadership he and his government have shown in the aftermath of two recent earthquakes that killed and injured thousands of people and left many more homeless.

The United States responded to these earthquakes by quickly sending rescue workers and over $16 million in relief assistance to the people of El Salvador. Today, I told President Flores that the United States has pledged $52 million in reconstruction assistance to El Salvador this fiscal year, and I will seek to match or increase that amount for next year.

In addition, I informed him of the Attorney General's decision to grant temporary relief from deportation for a period of 18 months for Salvadoran citizens living in the United States. This will allow them to continue to work here and to remit some of their wages back home to support El Salvador's recovery efforts.

The recent earthquake in Washington State brings home to the citizens of our nation how natural disaster can strike any of us. And it reminds us of our obligation to reach out to help those in other nations struggling in the wake of disaster to rebuild their homes and lives.

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