Bush's on Latin America visit from March 8
White House has said that President George W Bush's visit to Latin America stands on its own merit and is not meant to devalue the importance of the Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.
"...The more important thing is, it underscores America's commitment to the region," White House Spokesman Tony Snow said.
"The United States is committed to doing what we can to make life better..." Snow said ahead of the President's address to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Bush begins a weeklong official visit to Latin America on March 8 in a trip that will take him to Brazil, Uriguay, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico.
"... Have been a number of cases in which that government (Chavez) has tried to intervene in elections, and so far is batting zero. I think it's more important to extend the blessings of democracy throughout the region and make it clear that the United States is committed not only to the prospect of free elections, but also the follow on, so that you can continue to provide hope and opportunity for people who live in democratic nations," he said.
Snow, however refused to comment on a TV Commercial that has lower income Americans thanking Chavez and Venezuela for the low cost heating oil that the country is providing.
Since taking office, Bush has doubled US foreign assistance to Latin America to about USD 1.6 billion a year.
"The United States of America is committed to helping people rise out of poverty," Bush said in an address to an invited audience under the aegis of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
He announced a series of steps that includes visits by Navy Medical Ship 'Comfort' which will make port calls in Belize, Guatemala, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname.
Its staff will treat 85,000 patients and conduct up to 1,500 surgeries. Other military medical teams will provide medical care through 62 medical readiness training exercises in 14 countries.
A health care professional training centre will be established in Panama to serve all of Central America, training students to be nurses, technicians and health care workers; and Washington will commit USD 75 million over three years to help thousands of young people improve their English and study in the United States.
Former Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrived in Thailand Thursday evening following his departure from Singapore. Rajapaksa was granted entry into Thailand following a request from the Sri Lankan government, NewsWire reported. He left Singapore on Thursday after nearly a month's stay in Singapore. Sri Lankan Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena announced the official resignation of Rajapaksa on July 15. Sri Lanka has been facing its worst economic crisis since its independence.
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The average price of US retail gasoline fell below $4 per gallon on Thursday for the first time in months, giving some relief to drivers in the world's largest consumer of the fuel. The national average price for regular unleaded gas fell to $3.990 a gallon on Thursday, according to the American Automobile Association. The latest price drop may help President Joe Biden's administration and Democrats in Congress during November's midterm elections.
Russia and Ukraine accused each other of new shelling near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Thursday ahead of a UN Security Council meeting to address concerns over the facility's security. Kyiv nuclear agency Energoatom said later that there had been fresh Russian shelling near one of the plant's six reactors that had caused "extensive smoke" and "several radiation sensors are damaged". The Security Council is expected to meet at 1900 GMT.
Much like with Covid-19, the monkeypox health crisis in the US is hitting Black and Hispanic Americans hard. Yet those groups are so far lagging in vaccination rates, early data obtained by Bloomberg News show. In some major US cities with outbreaks, White people are getting the majority of vaccinations, data collected by Bloomberg show. In Chicago, 55% of vaccines have gone to White people. In Washington, D.C., 63.5% of vaccine recipients identify as White.