Clinton: Development crucial to US interests

Clinton: Development crucial to US interests

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday outlined a US aid strategy for the Obama administration that would serve the country's broader security strategy, calling for a dovetailing of development policy with defence and diplomacy, dpa reported.

"The United States will achieve our best results when we approach foreign policy as an integrated whole rather than a sum of its parts," she said in a major speech at the Peterson Institute of International Economics, a private think-tank in Washington.

"Development must become an equal pillar of our (foreign policy), along with defence and diplomacy," she said, calling the approach the "three Ds."

The broader context for Clinton's speech included worries over Yemen, increasingly seen as a fertile breeding ground for terrorism, and Pakistan and Afghanistan, where poverty drives support for insurgency.

Development "helps to make future military action less necessary," she said. "It is much cheaper to pay for development up front than to pay for war over the long term."

Clinton said that empowering and educating women and girls - the world's "biggest untapped resource" - was not only a personal priority of hers for nearly four decades but also a strategic interest of the United States.

Referring to the successful mushrooming of micro-lending programmes to women in developing countries, she said that women "have proven to be such a safe and reliable credit risk."

"I will not accept words without deeds when it comes to women's progress," she said. "Our foreign policy (will) support the world's women and achieve meaningful results."

After nearly a year heading the State Department, Clinton said that putting development on an equal footing with diplomacy and defence did not mean "politicizing" aid but rather coordinating development assistance with military and diplomatic expertise.

She said that more emphasis would be given to investment rather than aid, which she said was key to breaking "the cycle of dependence, which aid can create."

"Aid chases need. Investment chases opportunity," she said.

Clinton said the US needs to ensure that its development activities are accountable, transparent and results-oriented.

The US seeks "true partnership based on shared responsibility" with countries committed to good governance, willing to "levy taxes on those who can afford them" and committed to managing natural resources for the national good, she said.

"American taxpayers cannot pick up the tab for those who are able, but unwilling, to do it themselves," she said.

Clinton gave assurances that the US was not "abandoning aid," which she said was "still a vital tool especially as an emergency response."

"Through strategic investments we hope one day to put us out of the aid business, except for emergencies," she said.

Clinton noted the emergence of important new contributors to global development such as China, Brazil and India, and the intention of the US to collaborate with global partners to reduce duplication of efforts.

"We cannot stop terrorism or defeat the ideologies of violent extremism when hundreds of millions of young people see a future with no jobs, no hope and no way ever to catch up to the developed world," she said.

The US is in the process of tripling the number of civilians on the ground for development, Clinton said, in accord with the Obama administration's commitment to double the non-military US foreign aid budget to 50 billion dollars a year by 2012.

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