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BUSH PUSHES AN OVERHAUL OF FOREIGN AID

President Bush offered U.S. support Monday to strengthen international peacekeeping and urged overhauling foreign aid programs to get away from Third World handouts.

"We propose to alter fundamentally the focus of U.S. assistance programs to building strong, independent economies that can become contributors to a healthy, growing global economy," Bush said in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly.He did not offer to commit U.S. troops to the widening peacekeeping operations of the United Nations in the post-Cold War era. Nor did the president directly commit fresh U.S. funds.

But he enthusiastically endorsed the call by U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali for a new agenda "to strengthen the United Nations' ability to prevent, contain and resolve conflict across the globe."

At home, he proposed transferring funds from U.S. foreign aid programs to create a $1 billion fund to support American businessmen in providing expertise, goods and services in countries converting to free-market economies.

Some 40,000 U.S. jobs would be created under the program, the White House estimated.

Bush's call for revamping foreign aid could lead to a bipartisan effort if he wins re-election. A prominent Senate Democrat, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, has proposed reconsidering the $14 billion U.S. program next year and several senior House Democrats have called for major changes in the past.

Since World War II, Bush said, foreign aid has served as a Cold War weapon - and he said it still serves security interests.

"But foreign aid, as we've known it, needs to be transformed," he said. "The notion of the handout to less-developed countries needs to give way to cooperation in mutually productive economic relationships."

Bush said that as nations rely more on the private sector and free markets the higher their growth rate.