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AFP: Clinton positive on forgiving Haiti debt

January 26, 2010
In The News

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced support Tuesday for forgiving Haiti's debt, doubting the earthquake-battered nation would be able to repay it.

"It's just unrealistic to think that Haiti would ever, in the far foreseeable future, be able to repay," Clinton said in an interview with American Urban Radio Networks broadcast Tuesday.

Clinton said the United States was looking at plans outlined by international lenders to forgive Haiti's debt which stood at around one billion dollars before the earthquake.

Three lenders -- the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank -- made presentations on debt relief Tuesday at an emergency conference on Haiti in Montreal.

"Absolutely, it's feasible. We are looking at that," Clinton told the radio network, which is geared toward an African American audience.

The IMF and World Bank last year forgave 1.2 billion dollars in debt owed by the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation, which was already suffering from floods and high food prices.

After the earthquake, the World Bank gave Haiti a five-year grace period on debt payments and the Paris Club, which groups rich countries, recommended cancelling the 214 million dollars owed by Haiti to its members.

Haiti's top lender was Venezuela, not a member of the Paris Club, but leftist President Hugo Chavez on Monday announced he was forgiving the nation's 295 million dollar debt to Caracas.

US Representative Maxine Waters has appealed with the Congressional Black Caucus for the United States to use its influence with international lenders to forgive Haiti's remaining debt.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.