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U.S.: Christopher Warns Of Foreign Affairs Budget Cuts

Washington, 16 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - In his final public speech, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher warned again yesterday that budget cuts are hindering the conduct of U.S. diplomacy.

He said that if the U.S. Congress continues to cut the budget for the State Department, the United States will have to close down more embassies and consulates overseas, with negative consequences for U.S. interests. He says budget cuts imposed in the past few years have led to the closing of two dozen consulates and several embassies.

Christopher spoke to students at Harvard University. The 71-year-old Christopher is leaving after serving four years as President Bill Clinton's secretary of state. Christopher plans to return to a private law practice. He is being succeeded by former United Nations ambassador Madeleine Albight, whose nomination is expected to be approved by the U.S. Senate next week.

Christopher also called for restoration of adequate funds for the U.S. foreign aid program. He says foreign aid makes diplomacy more effective, especially over a long term. The cost of prevention, says Christopher, is always cheaper than the cost of dealing with a crisis.