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Former USSR: Administrator Defends U.S. Aid Increase

Washington, 26 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - The administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, known as USAID, yesterday defended the Clinton administration's request for increased funding for aid programs, including those in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Testifying before the House of Representatives International Relations Committee, Brian Atwood said helping to secure free societies in this region remains one of America's highest foreign policy and national security priorities.

President Bill Clinton's budget request for the fiscal year that begins in October includes a modest increase in programs for international affairs. Within this is an extra $290 million for former Communist countries in transition.

Under pressure from Congress in recent years, foreign programs have been cut dramatically. But Atwood said the United States has gone too far in that direction.

"It's important to begin to build back our program so that we can indeed serve America's interests," he said. He argued that long-term development aid clearly helps prevent crises around the world.