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Monday, October 18, 1999 Published at 19:36 GMT 20:36 UK

World: Americas

Clinton vetoes foreign aid bill

Mr Clinton says the Middle East Wye accord is under threat

US President Bill Clinton has vetoed a foreign aid bill in what looks to be an escalating dispute between the White House and Congress over the budget.

[ image: Mr Clinton had asked for $14.9bn]
Mr Clinton had asked for $14.9bn
Mr Clinton said he had vetoed the bill because it represented what he called "the next big chapter in the new American isolationism, right after the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty".

The treaty, which would put an end to all nuclear explosions, was voted down by the Republican-led Senate last week.

The BBC's Rob Watson reports on "ill-feeling" between President and Congress
Mr Clinton had asked for about $14.9bn for foreign aid spending. Congress had approved $12.6bn.

White House officials say Congress is simply not providing the funds needed for critical national security interests.

These include peace efforts in the Middle East, such as implementing last year's Wye River accords between Israel and the Palestinians.

[ image: Disarmament programmes are also threatened]
Disarmament programmes are also threatened
Officials say disarmament programmes in the countries of the former Soviet Union, US back dues to the United Nations and debt relief for some of the world's poorest nations are also under threat.

Congressional Republicans argue the extra money could only be found by raiding domestic programmes, which they say would be wrong.

Mr Clinton also refused to sign other spending bills passed by Congress despite a budget deadline later this week.

He has invited Congressional leaders to talks to sort out the budget deadlock.

The row comes less than a week after Republicans refused to support ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Democrats believe public opinion favours the treaty and that charges of isolationism will damage Republican candidates in the accelerating presidential election campaign.

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