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Clinton: family planning key for Africa

Evicted by her mother, spurned by her boyfriend, desperately afraid, the girl crouches in the bush, gives birth in silence, then walks away from her baby.

A village "auntie" finds the baby, confronts the girl and helps smooth things over with her mother to let her return home.

"Baby dumping," demonstrated for first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in a skit Saturday by teenage girls at a family planning clinic, causes great anxiety in Zimbabwe.

Facilities like Kuwadzana Polyclinic, where Clinton watched the teens' presentation, are trying to combat unwanted pregnancies that lead young mothers to leave babies to die. They have lowered Zimbabwe's birth rate but still confront the challenges of "AIDS orphans" and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

With the help of U.S. aid, the Kuwadzana is trying to reduce the transmission of HIV by dispensing condoms. It also is treating sexually transmitted diseases and is counseling men and women on ways to avoid pregnancy.

It is the type of foreign aid that deserves to remain intact, Clinton said _ especially since such efforts cost so little. U.S. aid to all countries comprise about 1 percent of the federal budget, she said.

"There are a lot of misconceptions in our country about foreign aid," she said. "One of my hopes is through visits like this, where you can see people on the front lines working to use the money which the United States has provided . . . more Americans would be proud."

The first lady and her daughter, Chelsea, are halfway through a two-week visit to Africa designed to display to Americans how far African countries have come economically and politically. She previously visited Senegal and South Africa and will stop in Tanzania, Uganda and Eritrea before heading home on Easter.

The first lady said 30 African countries have seen their economies grow by 3 to 4 percent. In Zimbabwe, growth is 7 percent. But the United States hardly contributes to the economic expansion, she said, noting that American business holds only 7 percent of the African market.

"Even that small percentage translated into 100,000 American jobs," she said. "Just think what that means for the United States."

Small contributions by big corporations are making a difference too, she said.

At the Dorothy Duncan Center for the Blind, where most young patients were blinded by measles, children compile books of poetry in Braille, using 22 computers donated by IBM.

Zaire rebel rejects truce

KINSHASA, Zaire _ Rebel leader Laurent Kabila rejected a U.N. call for a cease-fire Saturday and vowed to continue his fight against the Zairian government. The United States, meanwhile, dispatched a naval warship as an "insurance policy" to help in the possible evacuation of Americans from the country.

Kabila, whose forces control the eastern 20 percent of Zaire after a five-month offensive, again said he would continue advancing unless President Mobutu Sese Seko agrees to direct talks on stepping down _ a demand that, at least for the moment, Mobutu seems incapable of granting.