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Ann Veneman, U.S. Agriculture Chief, Nominated to Lead UNICEF

This is Phoebe Zimmermann with the VOA Special English Development Report.

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has nominated Ann Veneman to head UNICEF, the U.N. children's agency. Miz Veneman is leaving office as United States agriculture secretary. UNICEF directors must confirm her to replace Carol Bellamy as executive director. Miz Bellamy leaves in April after two five-year terms.

An American has always led the agency. The United States is the biggest financial supporter of UNICEF. But the Bush administration and the U.N. disagree about policies on reproductive health and sex education.

Last week, at a news conference, reporters asked Ann Veneman about her position on these issues. She said she does not believe that these or any other "social issues," as she called them, are part of the job of UNICEF. She said her main concerns will be to help children especially in the areas of education and health, and to deal with hunger issues.

The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund was created in nineteen forty-six to help children survive after World War Two. Today, it leads human rights campaigns, educational programs and other efforts around the world.

Ann Veneman is a lawyer who grew up on a farm. She is an expert on agriculture, international marketing and food aid. She resigned as agriculture secretary to President Bush after his re-election.

Miz Veneman said she would try to help the U.N. work toward its Millennium Development Goals. Five years ago, U.N. members agreed to make an effort to reduce the number of hungry and extremely poor in the world by half. The goal is to do this by two thousand fifteen. Other goals are to stop the spread of AIDS and malaria, and to provide education to all children.

But a new U.N. report says the Millennium Development Goals will not be reached without more money. More than two hundred experts prepared the report. They urge rich nations to increase their development aid by one hundred percent over the next ten years.

The plan calls on twenty-two countries to give almost fifty thousand million dollars more for next year than currently promised. The United States would be asked to give about forty percent of that additional aid.

World leaders will discuss the report at the U.N. General Assembly meeting in September.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss. I'm Phoebe Zimmermann.