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EU Offers US$4 Mln Aid to Quake-hit Chile

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European Commission President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso announced Saturday that the European Union is in a position to send 3 million euros (around US$4 million) to help meet the most urgent needs following the earthquake in Chile.

Europe is prepared to "do everything required to help the Chilean authorities at this difficult time," Barroso said in a statement, while expressing his "profound shock at the extent of the devastation caused by the terrible earthquake."

The European Community Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) would take the decision to fund first aid in the sum of 3 million euros "to relieve suffering and deal with the most pressing needs."

Barroso has requested the commissioner for humanitarian aid, Kristalina Georgieva, to update him with information on a regular basis in order to mobilize further aid if required.

In another statement, the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Catherine Ashton, stressed that the EU is "fully prepared to provide aid to the people of Chile," adding that "all the specialist European agencies are currently analysing and assessing the situation in Chile."

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, expressed his "willingness to help Chile with anything they may need from this time."

The Spanish government said in a statement that it is standing by to provide technical and humanitarian assistance to affected areas to the extent deemed necessary by the Chilean authorities.

(Xinhua News Agency February 28, 2010)