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Latest update : 2009-02-05

Newly-appointed US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has pledged to reduce the use of private security contractors in overseas operations. She said a review is being carried out following a series of scandals involving private companies.

AFP - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged to reduce the government's use of private security contractors abroad, in comments Wednesday.
Clinton said a review of the firms' role was being carried out following a series of scandals over the conduct of contractors like Blackwater, barred from Iraq for its role in a 2007 Baghdad shooting involving its guards, in which 17 civilians were killed.
"I certainly am of the mind that we should, insofar as possible, diminish our reliance on private security contractors", Clinton said during a gathering at the State Department.
But the former presidential candidate stopped short of calling for an outright ban on the government use of security contractors.
"Whether we can go all the way to banning, under current circumstances, seems unlikely, but we ought to be engaged in a very careful review of where they should and should not be used," she said.
Clinton said the government had already severed links with Blackwater following the January 29 ban by the Iraqi government.
However another contractor could replace Blackwater in providing security for some 300 employees at the US embassy in Baghdad.
Clinton said reduced troop numbers in Iraq -- a key part of President Barack Obama's campaign platform -- would likely mean contractors would still play a role.
"Here is the dilemma and take Iraq as the example. We are going to be withdrawing our troops ... How we provide security and safety for those performing civilian functions is a very difficult question," she said.

Date created : 2009-02-05