WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush on Thursday proposed a three-year, $5 billion program to provide aid for developing nations as long as they respect human rights, fight corruption, educate their people and open their markets.
``Along with significant new resources to fight world poverty, we will insist on the reforms necessary to make this a fight we can win,'' Bush said in an address before the Inter-American Development Bank.
Bush unveiled his plan for global development assistance ahead of the International Conference on Financing Development that he will attend next week in Monterrey, Mexico. The $5 billion announced Thursday is outside of existing aid requests, Bush said. It would be subject to congressional approval.
Advocacy groups generally cheered Bush's announcement, but said they hope he follows through.
``We applaud the president for recognizing the need to develop policies that elevate the importance of overseas development assistance. However, we need to see more details,'' said Sid Balman, spokesman for InterAction, an alliance of nongovernmental organizations. ``We hope his commitment in principle sees the light of day when the final figures of the budget come out.''
Bush said the Monterrey conference provides a chance for wealthier nations to think up new ways to foster development in poorer nations, rather than cobble together financial assistance that locks them into a cycle of dependence.
He noted that the United States alone buys and imports more than $450 billion in goods and services from developing nations, more than eight times the amount of aid these countries receive from all sources. So their progress, Bush said, is reliant on trade, and trade can happen only when there is a conducive climate.
``To make progress, we must encourage nations and leaders to walk the hard road of political, legal and economic reform so all their people can benefit,'' Bush said. Countries that adhere to these reforms, he said, ``will receive more aid from America and, more importantly, over time they will really no longer need it.''
With a leading proponent of debt relief _ rock star Bono _ at his side, Bush urged development banks to give up to half the moneys they devote to poor nations in the form of grants, rather than loans ``that may never be repaid.''
``Many have rallied to the idea of dropping the debt. I say let's rally to the idea of stopping the debt,'' Bush said.
The president also said the United States would increase to $500 million its contribution to a global AIDS fund, ``as the fund gets organized, develops a strategy and shows success.''
Bush spoke a day after the World Bank put out a report that showed developing countries are more likely to rebound from the global economic slowdown more quickly than richer nations, but still are not likely to experience rapid reductions in overall poverty.