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Former USSR: Clinton Seeks Funds For Former Soviet Republics

Washington, 7 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - President Bill Clinton is asking the U.S. Congress for almost a third more foreign aid funds next year for the former Soviet republics, mostly to finance a new economic program.

The funding request was included in the total U.S. Government budget for the financial year that begins October 1. Clinton sent the request to Congress yesterday.

The new program, called Partnership for Freedom, would cost $528 million. That is part of the total of $900 million requested by the White House for the former Soviet republics.

The White House says it will begin a new phase of U.S. involvement with these countries, focusing on trade and investment, long-term cooperation projects and partnerships.

Among other new proposals is $8 million for a global Human Rights Fund to allow the U.S. Secretary fo State to respond quickly to conflicts and human rights emergencies.

Economic Support for Eastern Europe under the SEED program (Support for Eastern European Democracy) remains the same at $200 million. The 1998 fiscal year is the last year of the program which was intended only to help the former communist countries make the transition to free markets. Funding for programs for the former Yugoslavia is expected to increase. Clinton has asked for a total of $492 million for Central and Eastern Europe.