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Last Updated:  Friday, 4 April, 2003, 04:31 GMT 05:31 UK
US $80bn war chest 'for allies only'
George W Bush
The news is a boost for President Bush
The US House of Representatives has approved almost $80bn (51bn) in financing for the war in Iraq and the start of reconstruction.

But in a controversial amendment, congressmen insisted that none of the money for rebuilding should go to companies from France, Germany, Russia or Syria - countries seen as implacable opponents of the US pursuit of the war.

The White House had lobbied against the amendment, but the bill was nonetheless passed by an overwhelming 414-12 majority.

Having already been passed by the Senate, the bill will now be refined by congressmen before being handed back to President George W Bush in a week's time.

Free spending

Aside from the restriction on certain countries, the money comes with only a few strings attached.

The version of the bill passed by the House aims modestly to limit Mr Bush's discretion over the money, by dividing the $80bn into a few dedicated streams.

The money includes a $25bn emergency fund, with the rest broken into categories such as personnel, operations and maintenance, and weapons procurement for the various military branches.

Mr Bush intends to use the money partly for the direct costs of waging war, but also to reward and compensate countries involved in the conflict, and to boost counter-terrorism measures.

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