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Europe

Europe, US Bicker Over Development Aid

Members of the European Union have called on the United States to commit itself to the fight against poverty and provide more money with fewer restrictions to the developing world.

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The US says it has already doubled its development aid

As diplomats continue to work against the clock in their attempts to smooth differences on the contentious issues of terrorism and human rights that world leaders will debate when they convene at the United Nations in mid-September, many remain divided over how to continue the fight against poverty in the developing world.

In Germany, Cooperation and Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul (photo) accused the United States of trying to torpedo the so-called Millennium Development Goals, which seek to halve poverty and hunger as well as provide universal primary education by 2015, before the summit starts.

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, Germany's Minister for Cooperation and Development

"What I find to be extremely dangerous is that the US government is trying to question the commitments made to the Millennium Goals and to cut out commitments to provide more money for development projects," she told Berlin's Tageszeitu n g Friday. "It's unacceptable given the fact that 30,000 children die every day from preventable diseases."

Negotiatio n s co n ti n ue

Washington has presented over 500 changes to a summit declaration, including the removal of the Millennium Development Goals, and said it never agreed to a goal of setting development to 0.7 percent of the GDP by 2000, a target only a handful of countries -- excluding Germany -- have met.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw (photo) said his country, which chairs the 25-nation EU, wants to keep the detailed goals in the declaration to be adopted by world leaders at the United Nations Sept. 14-16 summit in New York.

EU-Außenminister-Treffen Newport - Jack Straw

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw

"What we want are conclusions which are much more than simply more words, but actually say something which can be turned into something that is done," he said at a press conference in Wales. "We are involved in intensive negotiations with all partners in the United Nations, including obviously the United States, and we are hopeful that the result will be a positive one."

US wa n ts to set ow n goal

The US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton (photo), said Washington does not want to make any firm commitments on spending targets at the summit and that the past four US administrations never accepted the 0.7 goal.

Bush & Bolton

Ambassador John Bolton, right, said US development spending nearly doubled in the past four years

"We made it clear that was not something we agreed to for a target for ourselves," he said. "Under President Bush we have nearly doubled our official development assistance."

The United States currently spends 0.16 percent of its GDP on non-military foreign aid, while last year aid accounted for 0.36 percent of the EU's 15 old member state's GDP.

Washington said it wants to highlight a 2002 consensus that focused on free-market reforms and required governments to improve accountability in exchange for aid and debt relief.

The Non-Aligned Movement of developing nations as well as Russia also have also proposed a number of changes dealing with human rights, terrorism and UN reforms to the summit declaration.

This week the UN's top diplomat, Secretary-General Kofi Annan, ended his summer vacation in an attempt to get the camps reconciled before the summit.

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