President Rene Preval & President Obama

*President Barack Obama on Wednesday renewed America’s commitment to the recovery and reconstruction of earthquake-devastated Haiti, telling visiting President Rene Preval he knows the crisis has not passed.

After an Oval Office meeting, Obama stood beside Preval in the White House Rose Garden to praise the Haitian leader’s courage and the heroic work of Americans who rushed to help as rescue workers or with generous donations.

Obama said the challenge now is “to prevent a second disaster” with the start of the rainy season in a country where masses of people are without shelter.

“The situation on the ground remains dire,” Obama said, “and people should be under no illusion that the crisis is over.”

More than 230,000 people perished in the ruins of the Jan. 12 earthquake. Obama called it an “international tragedy” and said he was proud the United States has played a leading role in relief efforts.

Moving forward, the president told Preval, Washington will remain a partner with Haiti in the long road to recovery and reconstruction.

The gray-bearded Preval stood erect as he listened to Obama, responding with words of gratitude.

“I thank you not only for the material support but the moral support, the psychological support that made us know we were not alone,” the Haitian leader said.

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