Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States is working "more deeply in fewer areas" as part of diplomatic and aid efforts to resolve conflicts and help countries become more self-sufficient.
Speaking Wednesday at a town hall meeting at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Clinton said the emphasis is on "high-impact development" that brings about economic growth and ultimately makes U.S. aid unnecessary.
"Our goal is self-sufficiency - people being able to feed themselves and have governments that care enough about their people to provide healthcare and do all the work that we know makes for a better life," she said.
But Secretary Clinton warned of the budget challenges in Washington that are forcing agencies to do more with less. She said some members of Congress do not see the value in the efforts of the State Department and USAID, but that a focus on concentrating their work will help ensure those efforts continue.
"The work we do speaks for itself," she said. "How we do the work, how we are more efficient, leaner, smarter, better will enable us to keep getting the resources we need to be able to deliver the results we seek."
Watch video of USAID townhall meeting
Clinton highlighted cuts in agricultural funding to Kosovo, Serbia and Ukraine - resources that were shifted to support farming efforts in Africa. She also said the U.S. is making greater investments in science and innovation, while promoting the roles of women and girls as "key drivers" of economic development.
She said another big issue is being more responsive to the needs of recipient countries, providing aid those nations actually want while staying within the goals of aid programs.
Ultimately, Clinton said, the development efforts help create a relationship between the United States and other nations that serve as a platform for political and diplomatic relations.
"And where that doesn't happen, there are so many misconceptions and so much room for stereotyping, caricature and all kinds of attacks. And that’s not good for development, diplomacy, or defense," she said.
She said the skills of diplomats and development experts are necessary because "more than ever, our national security depends on our ability to prevent fragile states from becoming failed states."