Mon, Nov 22, 2004 - Page 7 News List

US lawmakers move to curb spending

US BUDGET Concern over the deficit was apparent and even the president's initiatives did not escape cuts as Republicans moved to heed his demands to control spending

AFP AND AP , WASHINGTON

To stay within the spending constraints Bush demanded, all programs in the bill eventually will be cut by at least 0.8 percent.

military assistance

Reflecting new US strategic priorities, the bill for the first time contains US$300 million in military assistance for Pakistan designed to bolster capabilities of the country's armed forces that help the US hunt down suspected Al-Qaeda members along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

The program is seen as a reward to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who is risking domestic tensions by siding with the administration of President George W. Bush in its worldwide campaign against Islamic militants.

The budget also contains US$400 million for training and equipping the new Afghan national army, a US$350 million increase of the past year.

Israel, the leading US Middle Eastern ally, got a US$73 million increase in its military aid program, to a total of US$2.2 billion. In addition, the Jewish state will receive US$360 million in economic assistance.

Egypt is being offered US$1.3 billion for its military and US$535 million for its economic needs.

Fulfilling a US commitment to international anti-AIDS programs, lawmakers allocated US$2.3 billion to combat the global AIDS pandemic as well as tuberculosis and malaria, a US$690 million increase over fiscal 2004.

The Andean Counterdrug Initiative received US$731 million, but Bush's request for other anti-drug programs was cut by US$30 million, to a total of US$329 million.

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