State Department budget plan includes $1 billion for Central America

Bolstering Central American economies can help reduce exodus to U.S., officials say

The State Department's proposed $50.3-billion budget for next year includes $1 billion to try to improve governance and the economies of Central America in an effort to discourage migration to the United States.

The figure is about triple what the U.S. government usually spends in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras, U.S. officials said.

Officials say they would try to ease the poverty that has driven waves of people to flee to the United States, including tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors who flocked to the southwestern U.S. border in the spring and summer.

U.S. officials want to improve the economy by improving the system: strengthening courts and other government institutions, eliminating corruption and reducing crime.

The Obama administration's proposed budget for 2016 includes a 6% increase for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Foreign aid would increase 3%.

The State Department's proposed budget sets aside $3.5 billion to counter Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, including efforts to strengthen opposition groups and help refugees.

The spending plan also would devote $640 million to addressing "Russian aggression" in Eastern Europe, including $514 million to help the government of Ukraine, $49 million for Moldova and $77 million for Georgia, officials said.

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