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Bush Outlines 'New Vision' For Aid To Poor Nations - 2002-03-15


President Bush wants to give more money to developing countries that reform their economies and invest in education. He announced what he calls a "new vision" for development Thursday ahead of a U.N. conference on developing economies in Mexico next week.

The president's new Millennium Challenge Account gives $5 billion over the next three years to help developing countries improve their economies and standards of living.

Mr. Bush says the increase in assistance will only be available to countries that root-out corruption, protect human rights, invest in schools and health care, and open more markets with budget policies that support the private sector.

"Greater contributions from developed nations must be linked to greater responsibility from developing nations," he said.

Mr. Bush says Secretary of State Colin Powell and Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill will work with the international community to establish what he calls "clear, concrete, and objective" criteria to measure the progress of developing countries. The president says those that rule justly, invest in their people and encourage economic freedom will get more U.S. aid.

"Sound economic policies unleash the enterprise and creativity necessary for development," he said. "So we will reward nations that have more open markets and sustainable budget policies, nations where people can start and operate a small business without running the gauntlets of bureaucracy and bribery."

This largest ever three-year increase in U.S. development assistance comes as the Bush Administration continues to lead an international coalition against terrorism. The president says as the world mobilizes against the forces of terror, it must also embrace the forces of good.

"Even as we fight to defeat terror, we must also fight for the values that make life worth living for education and health and economic opportunity," he said.

In Afghanistan, Mr. Bush says persistent poverty and war created conditions that allowed a terrorist regime to seize power. When governments cannot meet the basic needs of their people, Mr. Bush says these "failed states" can become havens for terror.

"This growing divide between wealth and poverty, between opportunity and misery is both a challenge to our compassion and a source of instability," he said. "We must confront it. We must include every African, every Asian, every Latin American, every Muslim in an expanding circle of development."

Mr. Bush says the increase in U.S. development assistance will help expand the fight against HIV/AIDS, give computer instruction to young professionals and textbooks and training to Islamic and African countries. He is challenging other nations and development banks to adopt reform criteria for further aid.

The president also repeated his call for donors to give half of their aid as grants rather than loans to help double the size of the world's poorest economies over the next decade.

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