Memories of Asia's tsunami disaster touched many celebrations around the world welcoming the New Year 2005.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who is about to leave for a trip to Indonesia and other areas devastated by last Sunday's cataclysm, presided in New York City at a traditional countdown of the last seconds before the New Year. Tens of thousands of people (gathered in Times Square) observed a minute of silence to honor victims of the destruction in Asia.

Festivities were subdued or somber in many other countries. Thailand and Turkey were among nations that canceled traditional fireworks displays and parties. Malaysians and Indonesians took part in prayer services.

The prime minister of Sweden, one of the European nations hit hard by the south Asian tragedy, said traditional New Year festivities felt "completely wrong" this year.

President Bush has delivered a message of hope, strength and gratitude in his New Year's Day message to the nation.

Mr. Bush says the United States will go forward in 2005 with "confidence and faith" in the future, and will persevere in the war against terrorism.

He praised the U.S. military men and women for their bravery, which he says brought freedom to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.

President Bush also pledged to continue battling disease, hunger, and poverty at home and abroad. He says the United States will work to get more aid to tsunami victims, and together the world will prevail over the destruction.

Pope John Paul has included prayers for the victims of the Asian tsunami in his New Year's Day Mass marking the Roman Catholic Church's annual World Day of Peace.

Thousands of pilgrims attended the Pope's outdoor Mass today (Saturday) at the Vatican. John Paul also led a Mass for the tsunami victims in his private chapel overnight.

In his peace message, the pontiff called for greater cooperation among the world's religions, and for promotion of peace through dialogue, justice and forgiveness.

He urged the world's one billion Roman Catholics to, in his words, "win the fight over evil with the armies of love."