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Bill Clinton returns to Haiti to oversee aid relief

Bill Clinton takes bottles of water out of his plane January 18 at the international airport for Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Bill Clinton takes bottles of water out of his plane January 18 at the international airport for Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: President Clinton says he has confidence in Haitian government
  • On Wednesday, Clinton asked to oversee U.S. aid efforts, reconstruction in Haiti
  • More than 200,000 people were killed in January quake, Haitian government says
  • This is ex-president's second trip to Haiti since quake

Port-au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) -- Former U.S. President Bill Clinton -- charged with overseeing the United Nations aid mission -- made his second trip since the January 12 earthquake to Haiti, where he expressed confidence in the Haitian government's ability to help the country recover.

After meeting with government leaders, visiting a clinic and overseeing the delivery of supplies, Clinton said he was confident about the government of President Rene Preval. "The government has the best chance in my lifetime to slip the chains of the past," he said.

Clinton, whose mandate as U.N. special envoy to Haiti was extended this week to the rebuilding phase, said his responsibilities include ensuring the U.N. headquarters in New York is supporting efforts in Haiti; making sure donors honor their pledges; involving private investors and local Haitians in the rebuilding effort; mobilizing non-governmental organizations to help; and giving Haitian emigres in the United States, Canada and France the opportunity to participate.

"I want to build the capacity of the country to chart its own course, so they can trust me not to be a neocolonialist," Clinton, 63, said about the former slave colony's populace. "I'm not interested in doing that, and I'm too old. What I want them to do is be able to dream their own dreams and then make them real. That's my goal."

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He noted that previous aid efforts have failed to improve life in the poorest nation in the hemisphere.

"Too often, the aid that has flowed -- whether it was generous or stingy -- did not do anything to fundamentally increase the capacity of the country to stand on its own feet, to chart its own course, to run its own good schools, run its own good health system, run its own diverse economy."

Full coverage of Haiti earthquake aftermath

Clinton went to the Port-au-Prince headquarters of the judicial police where the government has set up temporary offices and met with government and U.N. officials.

"More than three weeks after the earthquake, the relief efforts in Haiti have been increasing to meet staggering needs, but the long road to recovery has just begun," Clinton said in a statement.

He traveled to Haiti two weeks ago, days after the January 12 quake, to meet with Haitian and U.N. officials. He also delivered food, water, medical supplies, stoves, solar flashlights, tents, portable radios and generators, the William J. Clinton Foundation said.

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"Today, I returned to Haiti to see the good progress being made by the massive relief effort and the lifesaving work of doctors and nurses under challenging conditions," Clinton said. "But while aid and assistance has greatly increased since my last visit two weeks ago, staggering needs remain and the long-term recovery has just begun. We must all do more to save lives and help Haiti rebuild its future."

More than 200,000 people were killed, the Haitian government has said.

U.S. President Barack Obama asked Clinton and former U.S. President George W. Bush to raise money for relief and recovery in Haiti. In response, the two former presidents established the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.

Its goal is to "identify and fulfill unmet needs in the region, foster economic opportunity, improve the quality of life of those affected over the long term and assist the people of Haiti as they build back better," the statement said.

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