Friday, March 31, 2006

Rice offers humanitarian aid to quake-hit Iran

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday offered US humanitarian aid to the victims of the earthquake in Iran, during a visit to England, AFP reported.

"The United States is always prepared to help with humanitarian assistance anywhere in the world when these kinds of difficulties are faced by a population," Rice told reporters just outside the northwestern city of Blackburn.

The US State Department spokesman told reporters later, however, that Washington had not received a specific request for aid from Iran. READ MORE

The United States and Britain are among the major countries involved in a standoff with Iran over its disputed nuclear program.

At least 66 people were killed and another 988 hurt when a powerful earthquake early Friday destroyed whole villages and sent residents fleeing from their homes in the province of Lorestan near the border with Iraq.

Rice said her "thoughts and prayers" were with the victims of the earthquake in Iran as well as with the 57 reported killed, including British tourists, and others hurt when a leisure boat sank off Bahrain, on the opposite side of the Gulf.

The US top diplomat was touring northwestern England as a guest of British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who paid a visit to her home state of Alabama last year.