Foreign aid cuts would be 'detrimental:' Clinton
Deep Republican cuts to foreign aid would be "detrimental" to national security, top US diplomat Hillary Clinton warned Monday, saying Washington cannot afford to "recede" from its global presence.
Clinton said she had told House Speaker John Boehner the cuts would cause the State Department and US Agency for International Development (USAID) to scale back their critical roles in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The secretary of state also cited political upheaval in Egypt, the linchpin of US peacemaking in the Middle East, as a key reason for keeping a strong diplomatic presence to help defuse crises.
"Massive" cuts proposed by Republicans in the House of Representatives will be detrimental to America's national security," Clinton told reporters after talks with Boehner, the most powerful Republican.
"We need the resources to do the job, otherwise we will pay a higher price later in crises that are allowed to simmer and boil over into conflicts."
She said the State Department and USAID are "on the frontlines" of US national security challenges and promote American jobs as well.
If the cuts go forward, the US diplomatic apparatus would have to "significantly" scale back its work in hotspots like Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as "critical" health, food security, climate change, border security and trade promotion efforts abroad, Clinton noted.
She proposed reaching "reasonable bipartisan consensus" to resolve the standoff.
"We cannot recede from our presence anywhere in the world," Clinton argued.
The State Department meanwhile released a copy of a letter Clinton sent to Hal Rodgers, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, in which she said the proposed cuts would be "devastating" to national security.
The committee's proposed 2011 spending levels for the State Department and USAID will result in a 16 percent drop from 2010 funding and would cut humanitarian assistance programs by 41 percent from last year, according to Clinton.
While her greatest concern was for the 2011 continuing resolution to keep her agency running, the State Department rolled out a proposed 2012 budget of ê47 billion, which it said was just one percent more than comparable 2010 levels.
The core foreign assistance budget is ê32.9 billion, including ê3.3 billion in economic assistance to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
It also includes nearly ê1 billion in economic and development assistance to "help strengthen and stabilize fragile states, including support to Yemen, Haiti, Liberia and Bangladesh and Sudan," the State Department said.
Supporting "key allies and partners critical to our national security," the budget also includes ê3.1 billion in military assistance to Israel, and ê1.3 billion in military assistance for Egypt.
Those funds maintain "traditional levels of funding as we support the Egyptian people in their moment of transition," it added.
Among the proposals is eliminating foreign military financing to Chile, Haiti, Malta, East Timor and Tonga, for savings of about ê5 million, State Department officials told reporters.
Nine countries will no longer receive assistance for joining the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, where foreign military officers train at US institutions.
Those countries include Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, Iceland, Madagascar, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and the United Arab Emirates, with savings of under ê1 million.
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