Arms-Twisting

Security Council Countries Threatened With Loss of U.S. Aid

WASHINGTON—The furtive arm-twisting being conducted by the United States on UN Security Council non-permanent members has angered some of those members. They're furious that they're being threatened with a loss of aid.

U.S. officials are focusing on these non-permanent members: Guinea (which chairs the Security Council this month), Germany, Mexico, Pakistan, Spain, Syria, Angola, Bulgaria, Cameroon, and Chile. (The permanent members are France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the U.S., and China.)

Here is what is at stake in both arms and other aid:

Angola: Zero in military sales. But Angola, key to budding West African oil exports and recovering from a long and bitter civil war, is currently receiving $14.1 million in aid annually and wants to up it by a million more. Much of this goes to help children and for emergency assistance.

Chile: $ 5,151,813 in military sales. Chile hasn't come down on one side or the other in the dispute over Iraq, but it wants to get preferential trade treatment, which would be made possible only by a law pending in Congress. So it is not in Chile's interest to rock the U.S. boat.

Guinea: $132,000 in military sales. Other U.S. aid currently totals $26.4 million, and Guinea is asking for $24.1 million in 2003. Of this total, some $14 million is for development assistance and $7 million is for child survival. The U.S. and France are Guinea's two largest donors. Normally Guinea ought to be able to receive additional aid through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act of 2000. This law provides preferential treatment to sub-Saharan nations that meet certain eligibility requirements and do not engage in "activities that undermine U.S. national security or foreign policy interests." Guinea is especially important to the U.S. because it has become a major source of bauxite ore for aluminum, and it's near African oil sources. Guinea is caught in the middle on the Iraq dispute because France is the West African country's largest benefactor.

Cameroon: $ 64,000 in arms aid. About $500,000 in other aid. Cameroon also would normally qualify for aid under the sub-Saharan legislation, but if it is deemed to be undermining U.S. security, it could be hurt. Again, France is a major donor, putting the poor nation in a squeeze. French companies abound in Cameroon, where the French are heavily engaged in the oil business.

Mexico: $ 14,451,000 in military sales. A total of $22.4 billion in other aid, and Mexico wants an increase to $30.2 billion this year. The U.S. buys 88 percent of all Mexican exports, and two-thirds of Mexico's imports come from the U.S. NAFTA has helped Mexico increase its trade with Canada and the U.S., and it has become a major exporter of oil to the U.S. President Bush was on the phone with Mexican president Vincente Fox earlier this week trying to get him off the fence on Iraq.

Pakistan: Pakistan got a new loan from the U.S.-dominated International Monetary Fund, reports the AP, and is expected to get $305 million in U.S. government aid this year. This week the House passed legislation that helps Pakistani rug makers, but leaves out Turkey, which just denied the U.S. use of its military bases.

Bulgaria: $4.5 million in arms sales. A declared supporter of the U.S. regarding Iraq, Bulgaria is asking this year for $28 million. More important, the AP reports, this nation is about to be elevated to the category of "market economy," which protects it from anti-dumping laws and places this old down-at-the-heels Iron Curtain nation smack in the middle of Western European capitalism.

The U.S. is also dangling in front of these countries the prospect of cashing in on helping to rebuild Iraq after a war. When asked in Bulgaria recently whether nations supporting the war could profit from rebuilding it, Don Evans, the secretary of commerce, told reporters, "I assure you we will remember our friends and those that were there alongside of us, and those that made sacrifices along with us."

 
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