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Veneman To Promote Education, Health in UNICEF Job

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Outgoing Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman says in her new job as head of the U-N children´s agency she will focus on promoting education and health rather than on social issues such as reproductive health and sex education.

She was questioned Tuesday on key youth-related issues after Secretary-General Kofi Annan introduced her at a news conference. He said Veneman will take over for Carol Bellamy as executive director of the United Nations Children´s Fund on May 1st if confirmed by the UNICEF board. Veneman was asked to clarify her views on the U-N´s longstanding policies of reproductive health programs and education for girls, which are at odds with those of the Bush administration promoting abstinence as the best prevention for AIDS.

The former California ag chief who grew up in the San Joaquin Valley replied: “I don´t come with any broad agenda with regard to those or any other social issues. I come with an agenda of helping children, particularly in the areas of education and health, and to address the issues of hunger and malnutrition.”