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Ban Speaks Highly of Chinese Aid to Quake-hit Chile, Haiti

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday praised China for its generosity in providing immediate aid to quake-hit Chile and Haiti.

Following the devastating quakes in Haiti in January and last week's strong quakes in Chile, China quickly sent aid to both countries from the other end of the world, boosting these countries' efforts to recover from the disasters, Ban told Xinhua in an interview in Santiago.

As a country frequently hit by natural disasters, China will also provide valuable experience to other countries in dealing with the aftermath of earthquakes and other disasters, he said.

Ban also spoke highly of the good relations between China and the United Nations, saying China is becoming a "very important" member of the UN.

Ban arrived in Chile Friday for a visit a few days after the quake to gain a full picture of the scale of destruction so the United Nations can decide a package of assistance and coordinate future aid. He toured some worst-hit areas after having talks with Chilean leaders.

An 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck near Chile's second-largest city Concepcion on February 27. It remains unclear how many Chileans were killed although the government had put the death toll at 803.

A Chinese plane carrying US$2 million worth of aid arrived in Chile's capital Santiago Friday. The cargo was carrying 10,000 blankets, 700 tents, 100 generators and two water purification facilities, with a total weight of 90 tons.

The relief supplies were collected within just one day from several Chinese cities including Beijing, Shijiazhuang, Nanjing, Weihai and Suzhou. Chinese officials said Friday's flight represented the furthest geographical distance that the nation had sent aid and the furthest geographical distance from which Chile had received assistance. It is also the first time that China has sent a cargo plane to South America carrying aid materials only.

More than 270,000 Haitians were killed in January after a 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck the capital Port-au-Prince. China had also quickly sent aid to the country.

(Xinhua News Agency March 7, 2010)