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|Sujet: Clinton spotlights Haiti's plight before summit Jeu 16 Avr 2009 - 13:54|| |
Clinton spotlights Haiti's plight before summit
WASHINGTON (AFP) — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left Thursday for Haiti to highlight US and international aid and support for the Americas' poorest country, struggling for stability and economic gains.
Clinton, who also will visit the Dominican Republic before heading to a Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, makes her first stop in Haiti's teeming capital Port-au-Prince.
She helped rally international donors who met in Washington on Tuesday to aid the impoverished mountainous Caribbean nation of nine million, ravaged last year by food riots and a wave of devastating hurricanes.
Clinton said Washington will give Haiti 57 million dollars in extra aid this year -- part of a 324-million-dollar aid package announced at the conference led by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Haitian government.
Officials said in particular that Haiti needed 125 million dollars to fill a budget gap for 2009, but the IDB said the donors committed only 41 million dollars for budget support.
The aid announced by Clinton was mainly for roads and other infrastructure projects needed to boost the economy as well as for food and counter-narcotics efforts.
Some 20 million dollars however was set aside to ease Haiti's debt burden and free up money in the budget for other purposes.
During a meeting with Clinton here Wednesday, Haitian Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis said the aid pledges topped her expectations.
"It was not ... up to the top amount," Pierre-Louis conceded, but added: "Considering the condition of the financial crisis in the world .... I personally was not expecting that much."
Clinton added the United States wanted in part for the donors' conference to better coordinate "all of the aid that is already in Haiti or intended for Haiti."
Such an approach will help "the very thoughtful recovery plan that the prime minister presented," Clinton said.
Clinton meets with President Rene Preval during her visit, before traveling later Thursday to the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. Haiti is a former French colony and the Dominican Republic a former Spanish one.
In Santo Domingo, the top US diplomat is due to meet with New York-bred Dominican President Leonel Fernandez and "discuss bilateral development cooperation and efforts to combat drug trafficking," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said.
Clinton will then join US President Barack Obama and 33 other democratically-elected leaders of the Western Hemisphere at the April 17-19 Summit of the Americas in Port-of-Spain.
"The theme of the summit is securing our citizens' future by promoting human prosperity, energy security and environmental sustainability," Wood said.
The fifth Summit of the Americas will be Obama's first opportunity since he was sworn in January 20 to address most members of the Organization of American States (OAS).
Cuba, toward which Obama is making cautious overtures, looks set to dominate the summit, even though it has not been invited to the gathering of 34 leaders.
Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.