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Friday, 30 June, 2000, 19:26 GMT 20:26 UK
US Senate approves anti-drug funds
Colombian troops
Colombia's US-trained anti-drugs troops
The US Senate has given final approval to a multi-billion dollar emergency measure which includes help for Colombia in the war on drugs.

The $11.2bn aid package also contains money to help pay for the American peacekeeping contingent in Kosovo, and funds to rebuild areas battered by natural disasters.

Senate approval came after months of procedural wrangling, with Republican leaders in Congress arguing over the size and scope of the package.

The Defence Department had warned that, if funds were not released by 5 July, the armed forces would have to begin cancelling training exercises.

Measures include
$2bn to fund US troops in Kosovo
$2.9bn for rising Pentagon costs
$661m to help repair fire-ravaged Los Alamos nuclear facility
$360m for Hurricane Floyd victims
The bill's most controversial element is the $1.3bn to help train the Colombian army and police in anti-narcotics operations.

The package - approved by the House of Representatives on Thursday, a day after negotiators hammered out a final compromise deal - now goes to President Clinton for his signature.

He sent the bill to Congress saying it would "make our nation safer and more secure".

Military funds

Both Mr Clinton and House Speaker Dennis Hastert have argued the money will help stem the flow of cocaine and heroin from Colombia, which supplies more than 80% of the cocaine used in the US.

"This Colombian aid package is an investment in our future - a future free from the scourge of drugs," Mr Hastert said after Thursday's vote.

cocaine harvest
Cocaine pickers at work in Colombia
Most of the aid is to provide the Colombians with 60 Blackhawk and Huey helicopters, to train and equip Colombian military and national police battalions, and for intelligence activities.

Officials envisage retaking rebel-controlled portions of southern Colombia, and fumigating jungle coca fields.

The package includes about $6.4bn in spending for the military, including $2bn to replenish Pentagon funds drained by peacekeeping operations in Kosovo.

The bill also contains another $661m to be spent on repairs and restoration after recent forest fires ravaged the nuclear laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and more than $360m for victims of last year's Hurricane Floyd.

Left out of the package - after strong opposition from senators and the White House - was a Republican House compromise to lift the food and medicine embargo against Cuba.

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See also:

23 Jun 00 | Americas
US funds anti-drugs war
12 Jan 00 | Americas
Colombia welcomes US financial aid
10 Jun 00 | Americas
Colombia seizes cocaine lollies
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