President Hu postpones US visit due to Katrina

President Hu Jintao on Saturday postponed his official visit to Washington this week because of Hurricane Katrina, though he and US President George W. Bush will meet at a UN meeting in New York in mid-September.

Hu talked with Bush by phone, and the two leaders agreed to the postponement "due to the special conditions faced by the US Government in handling the serious disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina," said a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry.

Hu was scheduled to leave for the United States today for a four-day visit. It would have been Hu's first US visit since becoming president in 2003.

The Foreign Ministry said both sides agreed to rearrange the visit at a time of mutual convenience.

Hu and Bush also agreed to hold a bilateral meeting when they attend ceremonies in New York for the 60th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, the Foreign Ministry said. That event takes place from September 14 to 16.

Hu said he is confident that the US people will overcome the difficulties caused by the disaster and succeed in rebuilding their homes.

Bush thanked Hu for the sympathies of the Chinese people over the disaster, the White House said in a statement.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang announced on Saturday that China would donate US$5 million along with emergency relief materials to US Katrina victims.

China also pledged to send emergency workers and supplies to help with medical treatment and prevention of epidemics, if needed.

Qin said China would join the international community in helping people in affected areas be restored to their homelands.

"We will be in close contact with the US side on how else China may be able to help," Qin said.

In a related development, a major Chinese oil company said on Friday that it and its employees were donating 1.6 million yuan (US$200,000) to help the US hurricane survivors.

The donation was announced by China National Offshore Oil Corp, which controls CNOOC Ltd, the Hong Kong-based company that tried to buy Unocal Corp.

Meanwhile, China's consulate-general in Houston and other Chinese organizations are helping Chinese immigrants and students in Katrina-affected areas.

It is reported that there are about 300 Chinese immigrants families living in New Orleans. The Foreign Ministry said so far there are no casualties or death reports of Chinese people.

Source: China Daily

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