Aid agencies here have given a cautious welcome to the announcement by President Clinton that the United States is prepared to cancel debts owed to it by the world's poorest countries. Bill Clinton made the pledge at a joint meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington. But Jubilee 2000 - the campaign to cancel all third world debt - says they are disappointed that Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy did not support their cause.

President Clinton said he is prepared to cancel one hundred per cent of the debt owed to the United States by the world's poorest countries, provided the money is used to alleviate poverty. The pledge represents an expansion of a commitment made at the G7 summit in June, which covered 90% of the debt. Mr Clinton told a joint meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington that more than 430-million people in over 30 countries could benefit from the policy.

Campaigners for the abolition of third world debt have given a cautious welcome the announcement. Dessie Boyle from the Jubilee 2,000 campaign, said many developing countries will not benefit from the move.