Former US President Clinton accepts role of UN envoy for tsunami relief effort

1 February 2005

Former United States President Bill Clinton has accepted the offer by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to become his special envoy for countries affected by last month's devastating Indian Ocean tsunami, Mr. Annan's spokesman confirmed today.

A formal announcement of the appointment will not be made until March, following Mr. Clinton's return from an anticipated visit to the region with former President George H.W. Bush. The two were named by President George W. Bush to lead a private fundraising effort in the US.

"The Secretary-General is confident that President Clinton will bring energy, dynamism and focus to the task of sustaining world interest in the vital recovery and reconstruction phase," the statement said.

"He believes that no one could possibly be better qualified for this task."

The tsunami disaster that struck a dozen countries in southern Asia on 26 December following an earthquake of 9.0 on the Richter scale killed more than 200,000 people, injured half a million others, left up to 5 million more in need of basic services and caused incalculable damage.

Mr. Clinton issued his own statement, saying he looked forward to serving as Mr. Annan's envoy and would have further comments after the official announcement is made.

"In the meantime, I continue to focus on my work with former President Bush to urge people to contribute to this cause, and the two of us hope to visit the region together later this month," it added.