What We’re Reading 8/12/09

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Secretary Clinton in Africa

New York Times: Clinton Courts Good Will in Nigeria
The New York Times reports that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today took a notably softer tone in Nigeria, an African heavyweight and crucial oil supplier to the United States, than she had in other African countries. On good governance, the Times says, Secretary Clinton’s message was muted: she simply said, “We strongly support and encourage the government of Nigeria’s efforts to increase transparency, reduce corruption.” The Secretary also refused to comment on the government’s recent crackdown on an extremist Islamic group in northern Nigeria.

IPS: Clinton Backs Agricultural Development
The Inter Press Service reports that Hillary Clinton is using her trip to Africa to promote agricultural development as an approach to food aid which she has described as a “signature element” of the new Obama administration’s foreign policy. She says that while the US will continue to provide emergency food aid to address immediate crises, the administration is focused on helping countries build mechanisms that sustain progress in agriculture over the long term.

New York Times: Clinton Presents Plan to Fight Sexual Violence in Congo
Secretary Clinton used her unprecedented visit to Goma in eastern Congo – she is the first secretary of state to go into the war zone there – to unveil a $17 million plan to fight sexual violence. She announced that the American government would train doctors, supply rape victims with video cameras to document violence, send American military engineers to help build facilities and train Congolese police officers, especially female police officers, to crack down on rapists.

Other news

Foreign Policy: Former USAID Nominee Gets Job with (the other) Clinton
Prominent physician and public health campaigner Paul Farmer is no longer a candidate for director of USAID. Farmer had reportedly been Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s choice for the job but got tripped up in the vetting process. Now, Former President Bill Clinton has appointed Farmer as United Nations Deputy Special Envoy to Haiti.

Reuters: World Bank Targets DRC Debt Relief by Next March
The World Bank and Democratic Republic of Congo are aiming to complete debt relief for the country by next March, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said yesterday. Zoellick also said there had been progress in talks between Congo and China on amending a $9 billion infrastructure-for-minerals deal. But the IMF fears that contract could plunge the central African nation deeper into debt and has delayed forgiveness of most of the $10 billion Congo already owes.

Reuters: UN Chief Warns of Dire Future Without Climate Deal
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday that failure to act quickly on climate change could eventually lead to violence and mass unrest as global weather patterns drastically change. Ban, calling climate change a fundamental threat to mankind, called on world leaders to act quickly so that a deal can be reached at climate change talks in Copenhagen in December.

-Grace Lamb-Atkinson

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