New development strategy to better target aid, says Britain

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FILE PHOTO: G7 Foreign Ministers Summit

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will try to better direct its aid budget to nations to help foster economic growth, offering an alternative route away from what London calls "malign actors" by instead dealing directly with countries.

Since leaving the European Union, Britain has wanted to better flex its diplomatic muscle on the international stage, hoping to expand its influence among countries in the Indo-Pacific region to try to moderate China's global dominance.

The new International Development Strategy will help address global challenges, deliver investment, support women and girls, get humanitarian assistance to those who need it most and continue work on climate change, the government said on Monday.

"In an increasingly geopolitical world, we must use development as a key part of our foreign policy," Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement.

"Malign actors treat economics and development as a means of control, using patronage, investment and debt as a form of economic coercion and political power. We won't mirror their malign tactics, but we will match them in our resolve to provide an alternative," she said, without naming any country or group.

The government will spend more on country and bilateral programmes, it said, reducing the amount channelled through multilateral organisations. By 2025, the foreign office intends to spend three quarters of its aid budget bilaterally.

It also intends to cut red tape and bureaucracy by giving diplomats greater authority to get programmes delivered quickly.

"The new strategy, launched today, will ensure that our international development work brings benefit across the globe and here at home," Truss said.

"Our strategy will deepen economic, security and development ties globally, while delivering jobs and growth in both the UK and partner countries."

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Andrew Heavens)