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Al Jazeera rejects US criticism
TV station denies that its coverage of Haiti relief operation has been "unfair, unbalanced.
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2010 06:39 GMT
Thousands of US troops have been sent to Haiti to provide relief and security [AFP]

Al Jazeera has denied allegations made by the US state department regarding its coverage of the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake.

The state department said on Tuesday that the channel's English-language service falsely suggested a US militarisation of Haiti.

PJ Crowley, assistant secretary of state for public affairs, said that he had complained to Al Jazeera about "what we felt was unfair, unbalanced coverage of operations in Haiti.

"It suggested there was a militarisation of the effort".

Responding to Crowley's complaint, Al Jazeera said in a statement that it "broadcast balanced, fair and detailed coverage of the Haiti earthquake.

"In this instance our reporting reflected the concerns of the Brazilian and French governments, aid agencies on the ground and many Haitians we spoke to in the course of our newsgathering".

Regular interviews aired

Al Jazeera said the state department was given "every opportunity to respond and PJ Crowley appeared live on Al Jazeera on Sunday January 17th, the day the report in question was broadcast". 

The TV station also said it had "broadcast regular interviews with the senior US commanders on the ground, and accompanied the US military as they delivered aid".

"[Al Jazeera] compared military activities at the airport to a little Green Zone"

PJ Crowley,
US Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs

Crowley criticised an instance in which he said Al Jazeera compared the Port-au-Prince airport, the hub of US relief operations, to the Green Zone where US forces are stationed in the Iraqi capital.

"We thought that was inappropriate," he said.

Crowley's comments were made as he was asked to clarify remarks by Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, who had said some foreign media "either misunderstood or deliberately misconstrued" the US decision to send up to 10,000 troops to Haiti.

A US aviation agency controls the air traffic in Port-au-Prince and effectively co-ordinated aid efforts until the UN took the lead.

The US drew criticism from France after a French aid flight was diverted from the congested airport on its first effort to land.

Alain Joyandet, the French co-operation minister, told French radio that "this is about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti".

Brazil, whose military has been leading the Haiti UN peacekeeping mission since 2004, also expressed concerns about the US taking command of the relief operation.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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