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White House to seek more than $1 billion in aid for Haiti

WASHINGTON _ Haitian President Rene Preval arrives in Washington Monday for meetings with Congress and President Barack Obama as the White House prepares to ask lawmakers for more than $1 billion in aid for the earthquake ravaged country.

Preval, though, is likely to also press for more immediate concerns. He told The Miami Herald on Friday that though millions have been pledged, little has gone to the Haitian government.

"There is an urgency. The urgency is that we have entered into a rainy season," he said, noting that the country needs at least $93 million immediately to fix drainage canals to prevent flooding, as well as to purchase seeds and fertilizers to encourage those who fled the wrecked capital of Port-au-Prince to stay in the provinces and farm.

He also wants to purchase seeds and fertilizer to encourage those who fled the wrecked capital of Port-au-Prince to stay in the provinces and farm. The country is also seeking money to get students back in school.

Preval arrives in Washington after meeting with a series of visiting U.S. lawmakers, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and several Latin American leaders. He has been to the neighboring Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Mexico but it will mark his first U.S. trip, post-disaster.

It comes just three weeks before the U.S. and other donor nations meet in New York to map out a way to assist in a reconstruction effort that has been estimated to cost $14 billion.

"What's most important is the philosophy of the reconstruction," Preval said he will tell U.S. officials. "It's not just reconstruct Port-au-Prince. It's rebuild Haiti."

Decades of neglect of the provinces and agriculture, Preval said, have forced people into the overcrowded capital.

"We need to put jobs in the provinces and for that you need roads, electricity, education, health," he said.

Read the complete story at miamiherald.com

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