Congress approves $225m in aid
to Kingdom for '98

By Caroline Faraj

AMMAN - The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives Appropriation Committees have approved a sum of $225 million in aid to Jordan to be included in the l998 fiscal budget, Jordan's Ambassador to the U.S. Marwan Muasher announced Wednesday.

Dr. Muasher said in a telephone interview with the Jordan Times and Al Ra'i that the two committees decided that $l50 million of the amount will be disbursed in the form of economic aid and $75 million in military assistance to the Kingdom.

The U.S. administration had submitted to the two Houses of Congress a proposal for allocating $l75 million in aid to Jordan of which $l00 million to be deducted from American aid to Egypt and Israel equally. This was approved last June as part of the "Peace and Stability Fund" while $75 million will be considered as the normal U.S. economic and military aid to Jordan.

Dr. Muasher said that the Congress' decision is still to be approved by U.S. President Bill Clinton before it can be implemented though this is a normal routine procedure now that the Congress' approval was secured.

Describing the Congress' approval as a very significant development, Dr. Muasher said that the favourable decision crowned the efforts of His Majesty King Hussein and HRH Crown Prince Hassan and it is a show of appreciation of Jordan's policies reflecting the Kingdom's credibility and the respect it enjoys in the U.S.

Dr. Muasher expressed hope that the Congress' decision will become an annual practice in the same manner in which the U.S. earmarks its annual aid to Egypt and Israel from its fiscal budget. In a statement after passing the decision Sonny Callahan, chairman of the Senate's Foreign

Appropriations Committee, lauded Jordan's policies stressing the need for continued U.S. economic and political backing for the Kingdom to enable it to pursue its distinguished role in the Middle East peace process.

Normally the U.S. administration proposes higher aid allocations than the amounts approved by Congress. This decision which approved an additional $50 million to the amounts requested by the U.S. administration is considered a remarkable development and a clear manifestation of the Congress' support for Jordan.