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Kerry pledges doubling of funds for AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria



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WASHINGTON, July 14 (AFP) - Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry pledged Wednesday to double US funding for the global fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria amid complaints that Washington was not doing enough.

Kerry made his remarks in a statement welcoming legislation signed Tuesday by President George W. Bush that extended trade and investment provisions of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

"AGOA must be only one element of a broader US partnership with Africa aimed at helping a continent battle the scourge of disease, overcome conflict, and emerge from under the long shadow of chronic poverty," he said in a statement.

"We must be committed to bringing the full weight of American leadership to bear against Africa's deadliest diseases, including AIDS. As president, I will double US contributions to the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria."

The Massachusetts senator, who is running against Bush in the November election, did not mention a figure and aides were not available for comment on what sum he would double to help combat the diseases.

But the United States has drawn criticism for refusing to go beyond a 200 million dollar contribution to the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria launched at the prodding of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Washington is the world's largest contributor to the fight against AIDS, with Bush pledging 15 billion dollars over five years. But AIDS activists complain he has eschewed a multilateral effort in favor of bilateral projects.

While US officials drew flak at a world AIDS conference in Bangkok this week, Kerry called on the administration to "live up to our full commitments to Africa on issues from fighting AIDS to addressing failing states."

He said that as president, "I will work with the United Nations and Africa's regional organizations to address Africa's persistent, disproportionate share of the world's weak, failing states and chronic armed conflicts."

"I will support effective debt relief measures where appropriate," he said. "Finally, I will intensify US efforts to promote democracy, economic reform and respect for human rights in Africa."

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COPYRIGHT 2004 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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