Seeking to dispel rising anti-American sentiment in the Middle East region, the United States has decided to launch a new $29 million Middle East Partnership Initiative. The new program aims to encourage democracy and open markets in the Arab nations, through the “sustained” promotion of entrepreneurship, free trade, education and women empowerment, Secretary of State Colin Powell announced December 12.
The program’s initial $29 million investment comes on top of the annual one billion dollars aid provided by the US to the Arab world, Powell noted, adding that the Bush administration will seek additional funding for the program from Congress next year as well as contributions from the region’s own affluent nations, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Under the partnership initiative, technical assistance will be offered to Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Lebanon and Yemen to assist their bid to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). In addition, trade negotiations will be sought with Morocco, Egypt and Bahrain, building on its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Jordan.
The US will also offer enterprise funds to help small and medium sized businesses gain access to capital. On the political side, the initiative involves partnering with community leaders to strengthen civil society, expand political participation and empower women. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )