U.S. Offers $600 Million to Clear Debt to Asian Bank: Offer Part of Clinton Push for Increase in Foreign Aid
Witter, Willis, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
TOKYO - The United States yesterday pledged more than $600 million to pay its debts and help replenish the Asian Development Bank's fund for the region's poorest nations.
The U.S. offer, made during two days of meetings of the bank's 25 donor nations, is part of a larger push by the Clinton administration for a modest increase in foreign aid after two years of sharp cutbacks.
Washington's pledge is part of a $6.3 billion package to finance the bank's Asian Development Fund (ADF) for the next four years. The fund makes loans of 30 years or more at 1 percent interest for projects such as roads and bridges to Asia's poorest nations.
Congress must still approve each in a series of payments between now and the year 2000. But the obligation comes at a time when many lawmakers remain opposed to increases in foreign aid.
Mitsuo Sato, president of the Manila-based development bank, said he hoped to persuade skeptical lawmakers that the contribution will not only help poor nations, but also further U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific region.
Clinton administration officials are using similar arguments in an attempt to wring money from a tight-fisted Congress to clear up debts to the United Nations, World Bank and other international organizations.
President Clinton plans to ask Congress for a $1 billion increase in next year's foreign affairs budget, which includes foreign aid, increasing the total to $19. …