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Pompeo under fire for withholding aid to Central American countries

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WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday came under fire from US lawmakers for withholding aid essential for women and children in Central American countries, Xinhua news agency reported.

“We believe that the Trump administration’s counterproductive decision to cut off US assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras has damaged our standing in the Americas,” two Democrat lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs Committee said in a letter addressed to Pompeo.

The pair of lawmakers, committee chairman Eliot Engel and member Albio Sires, urged Pompeo to greenlight US$48 million of aid due in fiscal year 2017 and US$527.6 million due in fiscal year 2019.

Engel and Sires said they were “extremely disappointed” by the withholding of aid, underscoring that the funds are “essential” to help children and families in the Central American countries.

The letter also highlighted the intransparency of the decision process to release the aid.

El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, a group of countries also known as the “Northern Triangle,” was denied further US aid earlier this year, as the Trump administration claimed they are not doing enough to curb the flow of immigrants into the United States.

The Trump administration in October said it will partially restart the flow of US aid to the three countries, but Engel said the move was too late.

— BERNAMA

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