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Clinton criticizes Trump budget cuts to diplomatic programs

Hillary Clinton speaks at the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security on March 31, 2017.

KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS

Hillary Clinton on Friday criticized President Donald Trump's proposal to slash billions of dollars from diplomacy and jabbed rhetorically at her former rival, remarking on her penchant for "talking about research, evidence and facts."

The former first lady, New York senator and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee addressed an awards ceremony at Georgetown University and focused on advancing the rights of women and girls. Clinton said a rising tide of women's rights lifts all nations and stressed that global progress depends on the progress of women.

Clinton, who also served as secretary of state during the Obama administration, insisted that the Trump administration's proposed deep cut of roughly 31 per cent for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development would make the U.S. less secure while undercutting the country's standing worldwide.

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"Turning our backs on diplomacy won't make our country safer," Clinton said.

Under the Trump budget proposal unveiled early this month, the United Nations and dozens of its affiliated agencies would face significant cuts and possibly an end to U.S. contributions. Dramatic reductions in U.S.-led health, development and climate change initiatives would require other donors to fill the gaps.

Congressional Democrats and Republicans have rejected the proposed diplomatic cuts, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., telling The Associated Press in an interview earlier this month, "I don't think these reductions at the State Department are appropriate because many times diplomacy is a lot more effective — and certainly cheaper — than military engagement."

Congress, in negotiations with the administration, has the final say on the budget.

Clinton was greeted by chants of "Hillary! Hillary!" but drew the loudest applause when she remarked, "here I go again, talking about research, evidence and facts."

The Trump administration has repeatedly been criticized for making false claims. Senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway earlier this year defended disputed numbers on the inaugural crowd from the White House as "alternative facts."

Clinton stressed the need for spending on diplomacy by quoting Defence Secretary James Mattis, who said cutting funds for the State Department means he has to buy more ammunition.

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