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Bush seeks $ 5 billion in emergency aid for Mideast allies

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

The Bush administration has requested billions of dollars in emergency aid for U.S. allies in the Middle East.

Officials said the administration has designated $5 billion in supplemental aid to U.S. allies that include Bahrain, Israel, Jordan, Oman and Turkey. They said the amount of aid designated was far less than that requested by several of the Middle East states.

"Our campaign in Iraq involves assistance of coalition partners and friends in the Middle East," President George Bush said on Tuesday. "The funding request to Congress will help reduce the economic burdens these countries have experienced in supporting our efforts."

Turkey would receive $1 billion in grants, under the administration reques, Middle East Newsline reportedt. Officials said Washington had been prepared to provide up to $15 billion in grants and loan guarantees had Ankara enabled U.S. troops to deploy in Turkey to open a second front against Iraq.

"The United States recognizes that Turkey has some needs regardless of the level of their cooperation," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said. "It's a fixed grant amount of $1 billion that can then be used to back a larger loan for Turkey."

The administration has asked for more than $1.1 billion in aid to Jordan. Of that amount, $700 million would consist of economic aid and $406 million in military aid. Officials said the Hashemite kingdom would receive an immediate transfer of $250 million.

Israel is meant to receive $1 billion in foreign military financing and $9 billion in loan guarantees. Israel had requested $4 billion in military aid.

Boucher said the loan guarantees to Israel would be provided over three years. He said the two countries are discussing the terms of the guarantees.

"We see that Israel has had to take a number of military and civilian defensive steps," Boucher said. "We are trying to help improve the readiness of defensive capabilities and systems for the Israelis."

Egypt is meant to receive $300 million in grants, which could be used to obtain more than $1 billion in loan guarantees. Cairo was said to have asked for $4 billion in economic and military aid.

For the first time, two Gulf Cooperation Council states would receive U.S. military aid, officials said. The administration has asked for $90 million for Bahrain and $61 million for Oman.

The administration has asked for $3.5 billion for relief and reconstruction efforts in Iraq. Officials said the funds would be used to repair damaged infrastructure and restore vital government services.

The administration's request includes $35.8 million for a U.S. embassy in Baghdad. American companies are expected to receive the lion's share of U.S. government contracts in Iraq.

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