WASHINGTON (Reuter)-Secretary of State-designate Madeleine Albright promised at her Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday to create a strong–active diplomacy and work to make the United States a "dynamic hub of the global economy.
Albright–President Bill Clinton’s nominee to be the first woman’secretary of state–said Washington would do more to reduce tensions in Cyprus–India-Pakistan and Nagorno- Karabakh and maintain its central role in Middle East peace efforts.
In testimony presented to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee–Albright said the United States would increase its efforts at promoting a resolution in Cyprus–divided between Greeks and Turks since 1974.
On India and Pakistan–which both have advanced nuclear capability–she said–"We will again consider the prospects for reducing the tensions.
She said Washington was prepared to play "a more visible role in bringing a settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict–and suggested Congress could help increase US influence by lifting restrictions on non-military assistance to Azerbaijan–while maintaining aid for Armenia.
Albright backed the long-delayed agreement on Hebron under negotiation by Israel and the Palestinian’s saying it would "serve as a catalyst–strengthening the supporters of peace.
Albright–who fled to the United States from her native Czechoslovakia in WWII–was introduced to the committee by outgoing Secretary of State Warren Christopher–who called her a "magnificent choice as his successor.
Senator Jesse Helms–the panels Republican chairman–and Senator Joseph Biden–the ranking Democrat–welcomed her warmly–underscoring expectations Albright would receive the panels endorsement and win easy approval by the full Senate.
Albright made an emphatic pitch to Congress–which forced big cuts in foreign affairs spending in recent years–to restore funding–saying the United States needed first-class diplomacy.
"Force alone can be a blunt instrument and there are many problems it cannot solve–she said.
"We must be the authors of the history of our age– Albright told the committee–adding: "Our leadership must be sustained if our interests are to be protected around the world. We cannot have that on the cheap. We must invest the resources needed to maintain American leadership.
She said the United States is "the world’s richest– strongest–most respected nation (yet) provides a smaller percentage of our wealth to support democracy and growth in the developing world than any other industrialized nation.
In the past four years–the State Department cut more than 2,000 employees–closed more than 30 foreign missions and had to cope with a 30 percent cut in foreign aid–she said.
But while stressing US leadership must be sustained to protect US global interests–she also said–"We do not have unlimited resources–nor do we have unlimited responsibilities. We have to weigh our commitmen’s carefully.
"And we intend to be a very tough team–she said.
"Our diplomacy will continue to emphasize a high standards on working conditions–the environment and labor and business practices. And it is why we will work for a trading system that establishes and enforces fair rules–she said.
The proceedings were briefly interrupted when several protesters stood up and expressed concern about the effect on Iraqi children of US-led international sanctions. They were quickly escorted from the hearing room.