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U.S. Gives Iraqi Opposition Money

March 23, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Clinton administration has approved its first direct grant to an Iraqi opposition group it hopes will help overthrow President Saddam Hussein.

Assistant Secretary of State Edward Walker said Wednesday that the State Department is scheduled to sign a contract giving about $250,000 to the Iraqi National Congress, mostly to help it organize.

In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee, Walker said the group eventually will get more money to set up offices in the Middle East, set up security so it can operate safely inside Iraq and establish a ``free Iraqi″ information program of televison and radio broadcasts inside and outside Iraq.

The INC, made up of Iraqis from Europe, Northern Iraq an elsewhere, has been trying for about a year to organize itself into a credible umbrella for opposition to Saddam.

Money could not be given directly to the group until now, Walker said, because it did not meet government requirements as ``credible, grant-worth″ organization that would be accountable for the funding.

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