WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Colin Powell on Thursday denied the latest rumors that he was on the verge of resigning his post.
After a press appearance with Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, Powell strolled over to reporters and asked "What's up with these resignation stories ... You insist on writing this story every two weeks," Powell said, denying that he was thinking of quitting.
The latest rumblings appeared in The New York Times and were sparked by rumors that Powell was disappointed with the Bush administration's decision earlier this week to withhold $34 million from the United Nations Population Fund due to its connections with Chinese agencies that coerce abortions.
Powell had complimented the work of the U.N. program in Capitol Hill testimony more than a year ago — and said the president was of the same opinion.
But, he said Thursday, research done by the administration since then revealed that the money, in a roundabout way, was helping the Chinese government impose its "one-child" policy on women.
U.S. law qualifies allocation of family planning funds on the guarantee that the money will not be used to force abortions.
"It has to be done consistent with the law," Powell said of any appropriations to the population fund.
The $34 million that had been earmarked for the United Nations in legislation last year will now be spent through the United States' own Agency for International Development. The United States provides $480 million to family planning activities worldwide.