Sunday, June 15, 2008

Germany pledges help for China quake as ties warm

CHENGDU, China-Germany's Foreign Minister promised more help for China's earthquake victims on Sunday, concluding a trip to the country during which Beijing and Berlin said ties were back on track following a difficult period.
Relations between China and Germany were strained last year when Angela Merkel became the first German chancellor to receive the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, who China views as a traitor.Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who at the time criticized Merkel's reception of the Dalai Lama, visited China's earthquake-hit Sichuan province on Sunday, where he promised that Germany would help rebuild schools in region."I know that your country has been shocked by the 70,000 deaths this earthquake caused," Steinmeier told doctors, nurses and aid workers at a hospital run by the German Red Cross.Steinmeier said Germany would help reconstruct eight schools in the earthquake-hit region with the help of private companies. Berlin has already provided some 2.8 million euros ($4.3 million) in humanitarian aid to the area."The situation is dramatic. I have conveyed the compassion of the German people but compassion is not enough. We must help," he said at a makeshift school housed in containers in the Sichuan town of Dujiangyan.Officials said 80 percent of the buildings in Dujiangyan were damaged in the May 12 quake and weeks on, tents housing quake victims still line the streets.Schools collapsed across the region, killing some 9,000 children, according to Reuters calculations of domestic media reports. Surviving children are resuming classes in makeshift schools in tents and prefabricated housing.
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As in the days of Noah...

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