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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shakes the hand of the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila during her visit to Goma -- August 11, 2009 - 


Kai Ryssdal: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in the Democratic Republic of Congo this morning. The Congo is one of the world's richest countries, if you measure by natural resources. Yet for all the abundance it's plagued by war, poverty and public corruption. The secretary's promising the U.S. will send a team of experts to help improve economic and fiscal management there. Marketplace's Dan Grech reports.

DAN GRECH: Precious metals practically burst through the soil in the Congo. Diamonds and gold, bauxite and zinc, copper and cobalt, and 80 percent of the world's coltan, which is used in laptops and cellphones.

DAVE PETERSON: The country has got this super abundance of natural resources, and yet the people are among the poorest in the world.

That's Dave Peterson, head of the Africa Program at the National Endowment for Democracy. The team of legal and financial experts Secretary Clinton has promised will work with the government to root out corruption and improve fiscal management.

John Prendergast is co-founder of the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress.

JOHN PRENDERGAST: The commitment that the United States would like to make is to help the Congolese authorities get some control over the extraordinary riches and wealth that continues to evaporate, or evade the state treasury.

Experts say for Secretary Clinton's plan to work, it will need buy-in from Congo's government and some solution to Congo's bloody war with rebels in the east.

Osita Afoaku is a professor of public policy at Indiana University Bloomington.

OSITA AFOAKU: You have to end the war. Because political and military leaders use the war as a pretext for stealing resources that belong to the public.

Clinton said the U.S. was committed to military cooperation and to bringing Congo's war to an end. She offered millions of dollars to help prevent rape, a common crime in the fighting, and to professionalize Congo's army.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.