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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently discussed the Obama Administration's new approach to elevating development as a central pillar of foreign policy and integrating it more closely with defense and diplomacy. The United States also plans to work in partnership with developing countries that take the lead in designing and implementing strategies with clear goals.
The Secretary noted that this endeavor will be led by a robust and reinvigorated United States Agency for International Development, or USAID. It is therefore no surprise that her remarks were delivered one day before the swearing-in of a new USAID administrator, 36-year-old medical doctor Rajiv Shah. At his swearing-in ceremony, Secretary of State Clinton announced her "commitment to rebuilding USAID as the premier development agency in the world, bar none:"
"We’re working on major initiatives on food security and global health, we’re pursuing new ways and making a greater commitment to women and girls, we’re expanding partnerships not only with governments and multilateral institutions, but with the private sector, the NGOs and civil society and the faith community."
Dr. Shah believes that both he and the agency he now leads have been given a great opportunity to do a tremendous amount of good. "A powerful consensus has formed across this government ... that development is vital to both our national security and the shared interests of an interconnected world. ... This agency stands ready to seize this moment," he said:
"Now is the time for us to step up and deliver against the ambitious goals the President and Secretary have set for us: to improve lives and fight poverty, to expand human rights and economic opportunities, to build democratic institutions and improve governance - And, in the process, to advance U.S. foreign policy to enhance our own prosperity and security."
"This agency has helped to reduce poverty for millions of people and helped countries put themselves on the path to sustainable economic growth," said Dr. Shah. "Each of us has our own story to tell about the passion that brought us here. But each story speaks to a common belief: no matter how complex or daunting a challenge may seem, success is possible," he said.
"It is a belief founded not on idealism alone, but on our country's heritage of turning crisis into progress."