- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 5, 2002

The Bush administration yesterday proposed spending more than $25 billion in fiscal 2003 for international affairs an increase of nearly 6 percent from the previous year with hefty increases for counterterrorism, AIDS assistance and anti-narcotics programs.

Washington's economic assistance for foreign countries would go up by $226 million, with Pakistan and Jordan the biggest beneficiaries, while funding for Egypt and Israel would be reduced.

Foreign military assistance would jump by $457 million, and Jordan, Pakistan, India, Oman and Yemen would get the bulk of the funds, the State Department said.

"The one area where there is a decrease of about $118 million is our contributions to international peacekeeping, and that is based on the assumptions that there will be no major starts, that we will be pulling out of Bosnia and there will be reduced efforts in Sierra Leone and East Timor," Jim Millette, deputy assistant secretary of state for resource management, told reporters.

In addition, funds to support democracy in Eastern Europe would be cut by $126 million, he said, because of "greater responsibility by the Europeans" and "other donors."

The budget proposal includes more than $5 billion for the war on terrorism $3.6 billion in assistance for foreign countries and $1.4 billion to improve security at diplomatic missions overseas.

The foreign funding would support mostly "front-line states," which the State Department has defined as those countries that "have committed to assisting the United States in its war on terrorism," rather than Afghanistan's neighbors, said Joseph Bowab, who holds the same title as Mr. Millette.

In the security budget, $755 million would be used for new construction, $553 million for upgrades of vulnerable embassies and consulates and $52 million for a new Center for Anti-Terrorism Security Training.

The State Department was also allocated $60 million for "an aggressive public diplomacy effort through international broadcasting to eliminate support for terrorists."

Another $1.5 billion was set aside for international health programs, more than half of which is devoted to the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The administration proposed $731 million for anti-narcotics efforts in the Andes, of which Colombia would receive the largest portion, $439 million. Part of that amount would go to expand U.S.-Colombian military cooperation against coca producers. Peru would get $135 million with other funds distributed to Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Venezuela and Panama.

The proposed budget would also fully fund President Bush's pledge in his State of the Union address last week to double the size of the Peace Corps over the next five years by increasing its funding by $42 million to $320 million and creating positions for 1,200 additional workers and adding programs in eight countries.

The plan also envisions spending $100 million to expand a recruiting drive to attract qualified applicants into the Foreign Service.

"Other major appropriations in the operating side are contributions to international organizations," Mr. Millette said. "There are enough resources being sought to meet our commitments for the contributions to international organizations, including the U.N. and other entities. There are some resources in there for the beginning of a master plan for the U.N. itself to rebuild its building in New York," he said.

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