Edwards blasts Bush administration for refusing foreign aid

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Presidential contender John Edwards lambasted the Bush administration today for reportedly "squandering" millions of dollars in aid offered by allies after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that $854 million in cash and oil was offered by US allies, ranging from Kuwait to Canada, but so far only $40 million has been spent on disaster victims and reconstruction.

Edwards made his comments after a brief appearance in jeans and work boots at a site where Habitat for Humanity is building a house in the hard-hit Ninth Ward. The former senator and Democratic contender will speak later this afternoon at the National Conference of Black Mayors' annual convention.

In December, Edwards announced his bid for the presidency while working to rebuild a home, making New Orleans and its associated social ills a centerpiece to his campaign.

The Bush administration has said it had trouble accepting the foreign aid because Katrina was unprecedented and the United States was unfamiliar with offers of foreign aid.

The Post said its report was based on cables, telegraphs and e-mails from U-S diplomats obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a public interest group which got the documents by a Freedom of Information Act request.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)