WASHINGTON, Jan 9: US officials and lawmakers said on Sunday that they expect the Bush administration to increase its $350 million financial commitment to the tsunami-hit nations by as much as threefold to nearly $1 billion.
Several US congressmen told on Sunday morning television shows in Washington that they expect the administration to announce the increase while submitting an emergency budget request to Congress in late January or early February.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who also appeared in a series of television interviews from Nairobi, Kenya, also indicated the possibility of an increase in US financial aid to the victim.
The United States, he said, will assess over time how much extra financial help the countries will need and will coordinate its assistance according to these needs.
"We have to make sure that we're providing assistance based on what is needed and providing money based on what is needed, not just flooding all of these places and accounts with supplies that may not be needed, or financial assistance that may not be required yet," Mr Powell said.
Mr Powell, who just completed a tour of tsunami affected areas and is now expected to submit a report to President Bush on his findings, said he would urge Mr Bush to provide long-term aid to Indian Ocean countries battered by tsunami.
President Bush will receive a briefing at the White House on Monday on US assistance to the region. He will then meet US officials in charge of overseeing the aid operation.
Emphasizing the need for a shift from saving lives to rebuilding communities, Mr Powell said only a long-term international engagement can help tsunami victims to rebuild their lives.
"That we stay engaged, that this is a long-term prospect, that we use our money not just for immediate humanitarian relief but for economic assistance for infrastructure development," said Mr Powell when asked what he would recommend to President Bush.
"There should be no illusion as to how long it's going to take to rebuild these communities," he told ABC's "This Week." He said US military operations in the region to help victims could start winding down in the next several weeks.
"The ships can't stay on station forever because there are other requirements and missions," Mr Powell said. He said the reopening of roads would allow vehicles operated by international relief organizations to replace US military helicopters in delivering food and water to victims.