Pending U.S. Accord on Dues Gets Tepid Response at U.N. European Union Members Would End Up Paying Much More

By Pisik, Betsy | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 12, 1997 | Go to article overview

Pending U.S. Accord on Dues Gets Tepid Response at U.N. European Union Members Would End Up Paying Much More


Pisik, Betsy, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


NEW YORK - U.N. diplomats reacted yesterday to Congress' pending offer to pay $819 million in arrears - about 65 percent of what the United Nations says it owes - with a mixture of amusement, outrage and relief.

Although much remains to be done before the foreign affairs appropriations bill becomes law, most said that any money would be a welcome contribution from the organization's biggest debtor.

"It's a positive step," said Portuguese Ambassador Antonio Monteiro, adding that the money is badly needed. However, he said, it was too soon to know whether Portugal or the other European Union nations would agree to accept the conditions attached by Congress when the matter comes before the U.N. General Assembly.

The Senate is scheduled to begin work today on a bill that includes the proposal by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms of North Carolina, in which he and the Clinton administration agreed that the United States should pay the world body $819 million of its arrears bill over three years.

The payment would have U.N. member states agree to reduce U.S. assessments to peacekeeping and the general budget, write off nearly $500 million in unpaid debts, accept a variety of conditions and make certain reforms.

By U.N. calculations, the United States owes about $1.3 billion; the Clinton administration puts the figure at less than a billion and estimates in Congress have varied wildly.

Congress voted in 1995 to cap its payments at 20 percent of the U.N. operating budget and 25 percent of peacekeeping, and has calculated its arrears based on those numbers instead of the United Nations' 25 percent and 31 percent, respectively.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan,{D-} who was briefed by State Department officials about the "broad outline" of the reform package when he was in Washington last week, said he was "encouraged" by the news. However, spokesman Fred Eckhard added yesterday that the secretary-general continues to feel his own reform package, due on July 16, should be the blueprint for reform. …

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