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U.S. Says It Won’t Lower Aid to Israel to Pay for Increased Funds for Russia

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The Clinton administration does not intend to take foreign aid money away from the Middle East to pay for new aid programs for Russia this year, Secretary of State Warren Christopher told a Senate subcommittee this week.

“We do not intend to find that money in aid to Israel or Egypt or the other of the Middle East countries at the present time,” Christopher testified before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations Tuesday.

Israel, which receives $3 billion from the United States annually, and Egypt, which receives $2.1 billion, are the two largest recipients of American foreign aid.

Because of the ongoing political and economic turmoil in Russia, the Clinton administration has called for an increase of at least $300 million over the $400 million Russian aid level this past year.

Questions had arisen on Capitol Hill about where the administration intended to find the money to pay for this new program.

In response to questioning from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the subcommittee chairman, Christopher said the money would not come from Middle Eastern countries because of “their needs and their importance in the peace process.

“The president said we intend to keep those items at a level amount this year,” Christopher said.

President Clinton and other administration officials have said they would ask for aid levels for Israel to remain constant for fiscal year 1994.

The administration intends to present its foreign aid budget to Congress next week.

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