The United States pledged an additional $60 million Thursday to the U.N. flood relief effort in Pakistan, bringing its total contribution to $150 million in a move designed to encourage other governments and private donors to boost their aid.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who announced the new amount in an interview with Pakistan's Dawn TV, joined Pakistan's foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and other top U.S. and foreign officials at a U.N. donors conference later Thursday to highlight the extraordinary nature of the floods, which have affected 20 million people.
"Pakistan is facing a slow-motion tsunami," Ban told the delegates. "At least 160,000 square kilometers of land is under water, an area larger than more than half the countries in the world."
The U.S. pledge moved the U.N. closer to raising the nearly $460 million it is seeking to pay for relief operations over the next six months. The slowness of the global response to the appeal has prompted criticism of many of Pakistan's closest allies, including China and oil-rich Saudi Arabia.
On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia pledged to contribute about $105 million in assistance, most in the form of relief supplies. The European Union has also increased its commitment by $39 million to about $90 million.
Pakistan's president renewed a warning Thursday that Islamist terrorists may exploit the chaos and misery caused by the floods to gain new recruits and destabilize the weakened government. "All these catastrophes give strength to forces who do not want a state structure," President Asif Ali Zardari said during a news conference with John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, after the two visited some of the country's hardest-hit areas and a relief camp.
Information from the Washington Post and Associated Press was used in this report.