'All Aid Is Political'

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'All aid is political'

A report from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) outlines the Bush administration's goals for overseas aid, including official development assistance and private or charitable initiatives.

Stressing that "all aid is political," the report - to be presented at the United Nations this morning by USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios - calls on donors to consider the broader effect of assistance, even in humanitarian emergencies.

The report, which affirms the link between foreign aid and national security, will bring some relief to aid agencies that have watched nervously for signs that Washington would emphasize the war on terrorism at the expense of other programs.

However, the report includes no recommendation to increase overseas development assistance, which is well below the targets set by industrial nations a decade ago. The authors also underline the expectation that recipients will work toward good governance and accountability.

"Foreign aid programs must help developing countries make permanent gains in the rule of law, the protection of human rights and the establishment of a civil society that can constrain the abuses of government," the report says.

Key players to huddle

At least a half-dozen foreign ministers, including those of Germany, France, Russia, Britain and Spain, are expected to attend a Jan. 20 Security Council meeting on counterterrorism.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was planning to attend, U.S. officials indicated last week.

The meeting is being organized by France, which holds the rotating presidency this month.

"We consider this is the key issue on the agenda of the council," said Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere of France. "We have to take stock of this work, we have to make an evaluation, and we have to ... [find] new ways ... to combat terrorism."

France's last turn heading the council came during September 2001, and it co-sponsored the speedy resolution creating the council's counterterrorism committee, which in theory received unprecedented powers.

Diplomats said it was difficult for many ministers to make it to New York on relatively short notice, but the opportunity to meet informally at a time of crisis was a powerful incentive. …