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UN conference to discuss aid to Haiti

UNITED NATIONS - UN and U.S. officials Wednesday will request as much as $4 billion from international donors to help Haiti rebuild hope to "get it right" this time.

Haitian President René Préval is expected to unveil a $3.9 billion plan Wednesday to begin radically reshaping his country's post-earthquake economy and infrastructure. Organizers of Wednesday's conference hope to secure an infusion of $3.8 billion for reconstruction in the aftermath of the massive Jan. 12 earthquake.

Acutely aware of the limited success of past reconstruction efforts in the impoverished nation, UN officials said they would operate differently this time, working closely with the Haitian government, instead of around it.

In an opinion piece published in The Washington Post Monday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the "challenge" is "not to rebuild but to build back better, to create a new Haiti." The country's reconstruction would require $11.5 billion over the next 10 years, he said.

Officials agree Haiti's needs are critical, with the hurricane season approaching while still hundreds of thousands of people remain living under tents.

The donor conference comes as The Washington Post reported an internal Obama administration assessment concluding the U.S. government has provided $4 billion in aid to Haiti since 1990 but "struggled to demonstrate lasting impact."

Seeking to turn that around, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's chief of staff Cheryl Mills said Tuesday: "We are completely focused on how to build the capacity of the Haitian government effectively."

UN officials said aid will go to job creation, rebuilding the private sector and civil society, decentralizing economic activity and improving national security.

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