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U.S.: Bush Seeks Funds For Iraq, Afghanistan, Urges UN Role

Washington, 8 September 2003 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush has announced that he will ask the U.S. Congress for $87 billion to cover military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan over the next year. Speaking in a nationally televised address from Washington yesterday, Bush did not give details about how much of the money would go to Iraq and how much to Afghanistan. U.S. officials have been quoted, however, as saying the vast majority of the funds would be for Iraq.

With his administration facing criticism in America over the daily attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and the rising cost of the operation there, Bush also urged a broader United Nations role in Iraq. He acknowledged the disagreements between his government and some of America's allies that preceded the Iraq war, but urged that past differences not interfere with present responsibilities.

"Members of the United Nations now have an opportunity and the responsibility to assume a broader role in assuring that Iraq becomes a free and democratic nation," Bush said.

The Bush administration has previously sought to limit most of the job of rebuilding and stabilizing Iraq to members of the U.S.-led coalition. But last week, U.S. diplomats began seeking support at the United Nations for a new Iraq resolution aimed at getting more countries to take a bigger security and financial role in Iraq's reconstruction.

In his speech, Bush linked Iraq to the war against terrorism, saying success in Iraq and Afghanistan is central to winning the war on terror. Bush called Iraq "the central front" in the war against terrorism and said the United States is prepared to spend and do what is necessary to achieve victory.