WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Senate on Thursday linked restitution to the families of 20 skiers killed in Italy when a U.S. military jet clipped a gondola cable to Germany compensating relatives of nine Americans killed in a 1997 crash off the coast of Africa.

Seven of the victims in the February 1998 gondola crash were German.

``The United States should not make any payment to citizens of Germany as settlement of such citizens' claims for deaths arising from the (gondola) accident ... until a comparable settlement is reached between the govenment of Germany and the families'' of those killed in the 1997 crash, the Senate said in a nonbinding resolution.

Sponsored by Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., and passed by voice vote, the resolution was requested by the widow of one of those killed when a German transport plane flying at the wrong altitude slammed into an Air Force C-141 off the coast of Africa.

Monica Cindrich, 28, of North Charleston, S.C., asked the Senate to make the $40 million payment to the gondola victims' families conditional on Germany compensating her and the families of other airmen with her husband Greg in the C-141 crash.

The German government has rejected Cindrich's claim.

``I do not think it is helpful to link compensation issues ...,'' German Ambassador Jurge Chrobog said in an April 16 letter to Thurmond. ``The victims of the Cavalese accident were exclusively civilians and for the most part the sole providers of their families.''