U.S. Will Work to Drop Haiti's Debt, Treasury Dept. says

The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced on Friday that it will work with its partners around the world to relieve Haiti of all its international debts and to ensure that the country receives recovery financing in the form of grants and not loans.

"The earthquake in Haiti was a catastrophic setback to the Haitian people who are now facing tremendous emergency humanitarian and reconstruction needs, and meeting Haiti's financing needs will require a massive multilateral effort," Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said. "Today, we are voicing our support for what Haiti needs and deserves – comprehensive multilateral debt relief."

Geithner also welcomed the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) announcement to forgive Haiti's IMF debt, including the $102 million loan approved on Jan. 27, and said the U.S. will negotiate with the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Fund for Agriculture Development, and the International Development Association to follow suit.

"We are committed to working quickly and closely with these institutions in a way that provides immediate grant assistance to help the Haitian people recover and rebuild," Geithner said. "I very much welcome the initiative taken on this issue by leaders in Congress, the IMF, and the MDBs and look forward to working with them to provide the critical support Haiti needs for recovery as well as to discussing this issue with my G-7 colleagues this weekend."

The Treasury Department's move follows an announcement made earlier this week by the Swiss government, who said that it would make efforts to return "millions of stolen assets" from former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier to their homeland.

The money, which totals around $5.7 million, has been frozen in Swiss bank accounts since Duvalier was ousted in 1986.

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