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Criticism Over Aid Widens US Rift
Published on Wednesday, November 21, 2001 in The Scotsman
Criticism Over Aid Widens US Rift
by Jason Beattie
 
RELATIONS between Britain and the US fell to their lowest point since the 11 September attacks yesterday after Clare Short broke ranks to criticize heavily the American commitment to the humanitarian relief work in Afghanistan.

In a series of stinging observations, Ms Short, the International Development Secretary, claimed the US military was hampering aid effort in the war-torn country and rebuked the US government for its parsimonious contribution to the alleviation of global poverty.

Clare Short
RELATIONS between Britain and the US fell to their lowest point since the 11 September attacks yesterday after Clare Short broke ranks to criticise heavily the American commitment to the humanitarian relief work in Afghanistan
Her remarks follow reports of a breakdown in US-UK relations over the conduct of the military campaign since the rapid collapse of the Taleban last week. Although Downing Street dismissed reports of a rift between Mr Blair and President Bush as "baseless" there is concern that while London is keen to see a large-scale international peacekeeping force established in Afghanistan, Washington is apprehensive about the consequences of committing troops for the drawn-out process of "nation building".

Ms Shortís evidence to the Commons International Development Select Committee appeared to confirm there were significant differences between the two coalition partners about "phase three" of the war against terrorism.

She said it was a "paradox" that a country which prided itself on its generosity and was made up of people from all parts of the world gave only 0.1 per cent of its GDP in international aid - compared to Britainís 0.3 per cent and the United Nationsí target of 0.7 per cent.

"The only great power in the world almost turns its back on the rest of the world.

"It is not that the US is ungenerous. It is just that it is not sharing the insight other countries have got and it is very important we try to get them there," she said.

She added: "The suicide bombers of 11 September appeared not to come from poor countries, they came from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, but the conditions which bred their bitterness and hatred are linked to poverty and injustice, there is no doubt.

"It is not something that excuses 11 September, but it is part of the breeding ground for 11 September."

Ms Short later widened her criticism of the White House saying that the US militaryís inefficiencies were hindering aid agencies working on the ground.

"We really need security to do the humanitarian job. We donít need the military to do the humanitarian job, but to do what they do best, which is to provide the security, so humanitarian workers can operate," she said.

The Prime Ministerís official spokesman appeared to agree with Ms Short, admitting that there was "a lot more" that could be done to help the humanitarian project.

Copyright 2001 The Scotsman

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