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Young: Iraq aid will be gift, not loan

By Wire services
Published October 9, 2003

WASHINGTON - The chairman of the House Appropriations Committee predicted Wednesday that he will defeat efforts to transform the aid President Bush wants for rebuilding Iraq into loans.

Chairman C.W. Bill Young, R-Largo, spoke a day before his panel planned to vote on Bush's $87-billion package for Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush included $20.3-billion to rebuild Iraq's economy and government, which Young's bill would trim to $18.6-billion, but some members of both parties want Iraq eventually to repay part or all the aid.

"I believe we have the votes to maintain the president's position," Young told reporters Wednesday.

$6-BILLION TARGET: A team of World Bank economists has concluded that, as a practical matter, Iraq can absorb only about $6-billion in aid next year for its infrastructure needs, setting a target that Bush administration officials said Wednesday could be met from American and international assistance.

Council backtracks a bit on Turkish soldiers

BAGHDAD - Iraq's interim leaders told U.S. officials Wednesday they don't want peacekeepers from Turkey or other neighboring countries but are willing to soften their opposition to avoid a confrontation with the U.S.-led coalition.

After meeting with the council, chief U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer said that he was willing to discuss the issue but that the final decision rested with the coalition.

DEMONSTRATION QUELLED: Several thousand Shiite Muslims marched to coalition headquarters to demand the release of a cleric arrested for "anticoalition activities." Protesters hurled stones and sandals - an Iraqi gesture of contempt - at U.S. troops as they dispersed without winning the preacher's freedom.

Shiite clerics promised to continue agitating for the release of cleric Moayed al-Khazraji. He was arrested Monday as he led a 12-man delegation to negotiate with the Americans.

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