US State Department cuts budget by 6%

The US State Department proposed Wednesday a $47.8 billion budget -- six percent less than in 2012 -- with cuts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and increases for Asia programs and embassy security.

Secretary of State John Kerry said the budget for the fiscal year beginning October 1 strikes a balance between furthering US security and economic interests while helping to curb the country's runaway deficits.

"Our investments in diplomacy and development help prevent wars, reduce the threat of nuclear weapons, secure our borders and protect Americans abroad," Kerry wrote in a letter to Congress.

"Around the world, our work to prevent conflicts today will help ensure that we do not have to deploy troops tomorrow."

The greatest cuts come in funding for assistance to Iraq -- where the last US troops withdrew in 2011 -- and operations in Afghanistan, where most of the 100,000 US-led foreign troops plan to exit by the end of 2014.

The budget requests $1.7 billion for Iraq and $3.1 billion for Afghanistan.

"While we have made great strides in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, our work there is far from complete," Kerry said.

"We are requesting less than in past years, but it remains crucial that we continue robust funding to sustain the gains we have achieved."

East Asia and Pacific programs will see increases under the plan by seven percent to $1.2 billion, reflecting the administration's "pivot" toward the vast region.

"We are rebalancing our strategic relationship across East Asia and the Pacific Region through deeper economic engagement, strengthened multilateral engagement, enhanced security cooperation and a renewed emphasis on democracy and human rights," Kerry wrote.

In the wake of last year's deadly September 11 attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya, the budget includes $4.4 billion for diplomatic security and improving infrastructure at embassies and consulates worldwide.