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U.S. Pledges $400m At Kosovo Donors' Conference

United States Pledges $400 Million at Kosovo Donors' Conference; Bush Will Welcome Kosovo's Leaders In Their First Post-independence Visit

Washington -- International donors meeting in Brussels, Belgium, July 11 pledged $1.2 billion to assist with development efforts in Europe's newest democracy, Kosovo.

The U.S. delegation, led by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Henrietta Fore, pledged $400 million, and the European Union pledged $789 million to help the country over the next four years.

According to a July 10 press release from USAID, the U.S. funding will help relieve Kosovo's debt, build the capacity of its judicial system, enhance its business climate, improve the education system and increase access to potable water.

USAID said those projects and others that will be funded were identified in Kosovo's development plan known as the Medium Term Expenditure Framework.

At the donors' conference, Kosovo's prime minister, Hashim Thaçi, said the framework was a document that "describes our limitations, our resources, our opportunities and our priorities. It tells us the gaps in our technical, human, and financial resources that need urgent attention and your kind consideration."

Thaçi added that Kosovo has applied for membership in the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which would provide more sources for funding and development loans.

According to USAID, the United States is the largest bilateral donor to Kosovo, contributing $1.1 billion since 1998. "U.S. policy remains focused on building capacity within Kosovo's nascent institutions and enhancing its ability to sustain development into the coming decade."

United States, European Union Share Commitment To Kosovo

State Department Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried told journalists in Washington July 2 that Kosovo's economy is "beginning to move ahead," but added it is urgent that the economy soon gets "up and running so you don't have large numbers of unemployed people, young men with nothing to do."

European Union Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said July 11 that his organization is committed to meeting the needs of Kosovo and described it as a "profoundly European matter."

The U.S assistant secretary said Kosovo stands out as "an example where the United States and Europe have worked together extraordinarily closely and under difficult conditions."

Due to Russian opposition, the U.N. Security Council never adopted a resolution on Kosovo's final status, even though 43 countries, including more than two-thirds of the EU and a majority of the Security Council, now have recognized the country since it declared its independence from Serbia in February after nine years as a U.N. protectorate.

"[T]he European Union had to face the fact that it would have to act on Kosovo status and European countries had to face the fact that they had to act on Kosovo status without a U.N. resolution. This was extraordinarily difficult and the European response was staunch and strong," Fried said.

The progress achieved on Kosovo is thanks to the "determination and solidarity" of action particularly among the United States and the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy, Fried said. "It is the intention of the United States to keep working very closely with our European colleagues and allies in the months ahead."

The White House announced July 11 that President Bush will be meeting with Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu and Prime Minister Thaçi in Washington July 21 for their first U.S. visit as the leaders of an independent Kosovo.

Bush intends to discuss "his strong support for the efforts of the Kosovo government to build a democratic, prosperous, multiethnic state with institutions that serve all of Kosovo's citizens," according to a statement by press secretary Dana Perino.

ENDS

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