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U.S. cuts funding to 50 nations

From CNN State Department Producer Elise Labott

The U.S. fears its troops will be subject to politically motivated charges.
The U.S. fears its troops will be subject to politically motivated charges.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States has made good on its threat to punish countries that have not signed an agreement exempting American military and other personnel from prosecution in the International Criminal Court, declaring some 50 countries ineligible for U.S. military aid.

The countries include Colombia and six nations scheduled to become NATO members next year: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Those countries that recognize the ICC and have not signed an "Article 98 agreement" by Tuesday's deadline now face a cut in military training funds and help with arms purchases from the United States.

The new restrictions involve $47 million in foreign military financing and $613,000 in military education and training, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Tuesday.

The cut in funding falls under the 2002 American Service Members Protection Act, passed to reflect U.S. opposition to the war crimes court amid fears of potentially politically motivated prosecution of U.S. personnel.

Boucher said 35 of the countries have been receiving U.S. military aid, but most of the money has already been spent for this fiscal year.

However, those countries will face a ban on aid for fiscal year 2004 if they have failed to sign an agreement before the new fiscal year begins in October.

The other countries that are now ineligible for U.S. military aid are: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Brazil, Central African Republic, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Fiji, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Malta, Namibia, Niger, Paraguay, Peru, Serbia and Montenegro, Samoa, South Africa, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela and Zambia.

Colombia has been one of the largest recipients of U.S. military aid, receiving $98 million this year.

Prwsident Bush has issued waivers to more than 20 countries.
President Bush has issued waivers to more than 20 countries.

Boucher said all but $5 million of this year's allocation for Colombia has been spent, but the remainder is now frozen. However, he also noted that most U.S. aid to Colombia falls under counternarcotics assistance and is unaffected by the new regulations.

"As we proceed with this, we'll look at individual programs as well and decide whether they need waivers," Boucher said. "But our hope is to continue to work with governments to secure and ratify Article 98 agreements that protect American service members."

Several countries, including all NATO allies, are exempt from the new regulations, as are what the U.S. considers "major non-NATO allies": Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, New Zealand and South Korea.

U.S. President George W. Bush has issued waivers for 22 others, some of which have signed, but not ratified, an agreement.

Under the new legislation countries that are parties to the ICC, but have signed an article 98 agreement, still need a waiver to avoid a cut in funding. Gabon, Gambia, Mongolia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Tajikistan are parties to the court, but were given a waiver by President Bush.

Afghanistan, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo, East Timor, Ghana, Honduras, Romania, Albania, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Botswana, Macedonia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Panama, and Uganda received temporary waivers for having signed, but not yet ratified the article 98 agreement with the U.S.

Since the treaty setting up the court was passed last year, other countries that have signed public Article 98 agreements with the Bush administration protecting U.S. personnel from the court are Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bhutan, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Georgia, India, Israel, Madagascar, the Maldives, the Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Micronesia, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Palau, the Philippines, Romania, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Uzbekistan.

At least seven other governments have signed agreements but have asked not to have them publicized. Several other countries have not signed agreements but have verbally agreed not to hand over U.S. personnel to the court for prosecution.

The July 1 deadline has prompted a number of the agreements. About 25 countries have signed in the past four months, and about half of those signed in the past few weeks.

Boucher said the U.S. is still pressing countries that have not signed agreements to sign.

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