WASHINGTON – In an accelerating drive, more than three dozen countries have pledged assistance in connection with the Hurricane Katrina (search) disaster.
The offers blur political lines. Cuba and Venezuela, for instance, have offered to help despite political differences with Washington. Oil giant Saudi Arabia and tiny countries like Dominica, are among the nations making pledges.
Australia announced a donation of $8 million to the American Red Cross. "The United States is so often at the forefront of international aid efforts to help less fortunate nations," Foreign Minister Alexander Downer (search) said.
"So it is only fitting that Australia should contribute to the daunting task of helping the thousands of American citizens whose lives have been thrown into turmoil by this unprecedented disaster," he said.
Japan said it would contribute $200,000 to the American Red Cross (search) for its relief operations. Upon request, Japan is prepared to provide up to $300,000 in tents, blankets, power generators, portable water tanks, and other equipment, the Japanese Embassy said.
The United States historically has aided victims of disasters, but it is not universally recognized as providing the level of aid expected of a rich nation.
In July, President Bush resisted British Prime Minister Tony Blair's (search) ambitious goals for assisting Africa, though Bush took steps to double U.S. aid to more than $8.6 billion by 2010.
The United States, the world's largest economy, lags behind other rich nations in the percentage of its giving to nations in Africa, the world's poorest continent.
By Friday, offers had been received from Russia, Japan, Canada, France, Honduras, Germany, Venezuela, Jamaica, Australia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Greece, Hungary, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, China, South Korea, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, Guatemala, Paraguay, Belgium, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Italy, Guyana, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Austria, Lithuania, Spain, Dominica, Norway, Cuba and Bahamas.