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THE WHITE HOUSE

                     Office of the Press Secretary
                         (Camp David, Maryland)
________________________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                                      July 14, 2000

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

Yesterday the House of Representatives passed a foreign operations bill which includes certain positive elements but is nonetheless deeply flawed. I am pleased that members of both parties joined together to support debt relief for the poorest of the poor nations, as illustrated by the vote on Representative Maxine Waters amendment. While this is an encouraging step, I urge Congress to build on this support by fully funding my request for debt reduction to fully implement the landmark Cologne debt initiative. I am also pleased that a majority in the House supports our efforts to halt the global spread of AIDS. In Africa, AIDS is a leading cause of death and is undermining decades of effort to reduce mortality, improve health, expand educational opportunities, and lift people out of poverty.

However, it is unfortunate and unacceptable that this bill fails to provide the resources necessary to support our efforts to keep building peace and stability around the world. The House bill imposes deep, untenable cuts to U.S. contributions to Multilateral Development Banks, including the International Development Association which provides loans for the world's neediest countries in areas like health, clean water supplies, education, and other infrastructure needed for lasting poverty reduction. It is counterproductive to slash development loans that are aimed at lifting the world's poorest nations from poverty, as they reform their social and economic policies, while providing debt relief to these same nations for the same purpose. To do so undermines efforts to lift these countries from deepest poverty and sends them in the wrong direction just when they are working to reverse the devastating spread of AIDS among their people. This bill also denies funding for other Multilateral Development Banks, including draining resources from efforts to encourage developing nations to promote sound environmental policy. We must support the efforts of Multilateral Development Banks and we must fully fund our obligation to debt relief for the world's poorest nations.

This bill includes deep cuts in military assistance for nations working with the United States to advance stability; in particular, it would drain essential funds necessary to support Mid-East peace. It also cuts funding from the Ex-Im bank which supports the export of American products overseas.

Support for combating terrorism and nuclear proliferation is inadequate. This bill fails to provide sufficient resources for work with scientists of other nations to reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation, and it denies funds to an Administration initiative for anti-terrorism security training. By significantly cutting my request for funds to support Eastern Europe and voluntary peacekeeping, the bill also fails to provide the resources needed to implement a lasting peace in Kosovo and the Balkans and to bring our troops home from that region as quickly as possible.

In addition, Congress should not maintain the unnecessary restrictions on international family planning. We should not impose limitations on foreign non-governmental organizations' use of their own money or their ability to participate in the democratic process in their own country. The bill also fails to provide sufficient funding for international family planning and other USAID development activities, thereby inhibiting our efforts to increase development assistance to Africa and Latin America.

As this bill moves forward, I call on Congress to address the numerous and serious problems in it and to produce a foreign operations bill I can sign.

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