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Bush Reaffirms US Commitment to Global Development

President Bush says America's commitment to international development is strong, even in tough economic times. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports that Mr. Bush's comments came Tuesday in an address to a conference on development issues organized by the White House.

President Bush says the global financial crisis is having a major impact on many developing nations. And he says countries that are better off should not and cannot turn away.

"America is committed and America must stay committed to international development for reasons that remain true, regardless of the ebb and flow of the markets," said President Bush.

He says an enduring commitment to development is in America's security interest, its long-term, economic interest, and its moral interest.

"I strongly believe in the timeless truth: to whom much is given, much is required," said President Bush. "We are a blessed nation. And I believe we have a duty to help those less fortunate around the world."

In remarks at a White House Summit on International Development, Mr. Bush talked about his approach to foreign aid - an approach that links assistance with results.

He hailed the new Millennium Challenge grant program, which provides aid to countries that adopt economic and political reforms. And he spoke of the progress already seen in efforts begun during his time in office to attack malaria and AIDs.

Under President Bush's watch, U.S. foreign assistance has grown significantly. Even his strongest critics have acknowledged that his aid policies have worked. Some say they may be his strongest and most positive legacy.

Mr. Bush was upbeat as he cited the progress achieved thus far. He urged the U.S. Congress to provide continued funding in the years ahead. And he called on other industrialized nations and U.N. member to live up to their aid obligations.

"From fostering good governance and reform to alleviating hunger and disease to advancing education, prosperity and justice, our new approach to development is showing inspiring signs of success," he said. "Yet this success can be reversed and the cost of abandoning our commitments would be far higher than the cost of fulfilling them."

The president also spoke of the transformational power of trade in developing countries. He said that now, more than ever, movement is needed on a new international trade agreement.

He said the current impasse in the Doha Round of trade talks is disappointing, but that it does not have to be the last word.

"I believe the world ought to send a clear signal that we remain committed to open markets by reducing barriers to trade across the globe," said President Bush.

Mr. Bush said that before he leaves office in January, he intends to press hard for a successful Doha Round. He says all parties need to realize that trade is essential to economic prosperity in both good times and bad.