Conference Targets Population Spending Economics, Education Aimed at Cutting Growth

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The United States hopes that the international population conference in Egypt next week will help triple the world's spending on efforts to reduce population growth, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

"There are 200 million women in the world who have no access to family planning," said Timothy Wirth, U.S. undersecretary of state for global affairs. To reach those women early in the next century while continuing current efforts would cost about $15 billion, he said, compared with $5 billion spent now.

He will attend the U.N.-sponsored International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, which begins Monday. More than 155 nations and 1,200 nongovernmental groups are expected to send delegations.

The conference hopes to use economic measures and education to improve the status of women as a means of reducing population growth. Past programs relied exclusively on contraception.

Wirth said he was optimistic that wealthier nations would contribute more money for population control. Japan, for example, recently increased its aid for such programs to $400 million from $40 million.

According to the U.N. Population Fund the population of the world will be 8.5 billion by 2025, a dramatic rise from 5.6 billion now. The United Nations hopes to stabilize world population at 7.27 billion by 2050.

At a news conference Wednesday in Cairo, U.N. spokesman Ayman el-Amir listed improving the lot of women, creating equality for men and women and enriching the lives of all families as among the conference's aims. But he added that these issues were being ignored as "some circles concentrated on points of the declaration that do not go hand-in-hand with their philosophy."

The conference already is under attack by the Vatican, which wants no discussion of abortion, and by some Islamic fundamentalists, who regard any talk of sex education as indecent. …