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Bush: US Foreign Aid Depends on Reform - 2002-03-22

President Bush says developing countries must reform their economies and invest in their people to qualify for more U.S. aid. Mr. Bush explained his new aid policies Friday at a U.N. development conference in Mexico.

President Bush wants to change the way America helps poor nations by insisting that they make political and economic reforms before receive more U.S. aid. He says he will raise development funding by fifty percent over three years, eventually resulting in a $5 billion increase over current levels.

But he told a U.N. development conference here in Mexico that that increase in aid will only go to countries that root out corruption, protect human rights, open more markets and invest in education and health care.

"We must build the institutions of freedom, not subsidize the failures of the past," he said. "We must do more than just feel good about what we are doing, we must do good. By taking the side of liberty and good government, we will liberate millions from poverty's prison. We will help defeat despair and resentment. We will draw whole nations into an expanding circle of opportunity and enterprise."

In the fight against poverty, President Bush says major progress is within reach but that progress requires changes in the way developed countries use their aid.

"For decades, the success of development aid was measured only in the resources spent, not the results achieved," he said. "Yet pouring money into a failed status quo does little to help the poor."

Mr. Bush says no amount of development aid is ever enough when nations close their markets and limit opportunity. He says wealthier nations must accept a higher, more difficult call to reward only those countries that invest in their people.

"All people deserve governments instituted by their own consent, legal systems that spread opportunity instead of protecting the narrow interests of a few and the economic systems that respect their ambition and reward efforts of the people," the president said. "Liberty and law and opportunity are the conditions for development and they are the common hopes of mankind."

The president says his new concept for development will judge the progress of developing countries with clear, concrete, and objective criteria. He is asking Congress to gradually build-up the program with $10 billion over the first three years, reaching annual contributions of five billion dollars a year starting in 2006.

Mr. Bush linked the plan to the U.S.-led war against terrorism, saying poor countries that fail to meet the basic needs of their people can become havens for terror. "We will challenge the poverty and hopelessness and lack of education and failed governments that too often allow conditions that terrorists can seize and try to turn to their advantage," he said.

Mr. Bush repeated his call for donors to give half of their aid as grants rather that loans to help double the size of the world's poorest economies over the next decade. He meets later Friday with Mexican President Vicente Fox before leaving Saturday for a regional meeting in Peru.