NEW YORK (CWNews.com) - Rather than criticize US President Bill Clinton for vowing to veto a proposed law that would have paid the US dues in arrears to the United Nations, UN officials on Wednesday criticized the Congress for including provisions in the bill banning US funding of overseas groups that promote or provide abortions.

      Clinton has repeatedly said he would veto the bill, despite his insistence on the need to fund the UN, because of the pro-life amendment. The Senate on Tuesday gave final congressional approval to a State Department funding bill that included $926 million for the UN and the abortion funding ban. UN officials said the congressional action in effect holds the funds hostage to an issue with which it is not involved. "The position of the UN is that abortion is not to be promoted as a means of family planning and under no circumstances are UN funds to be used for abortion," said Bill Ryan of the UN Population Fund.

      According to the United Nations, the United States owes more than $1.57 billion -- mostly from previous years. Of that money, $958 million is owed to the fund used to reimburse countries that provide troops for UN peacekeeping missions. The remainder -- about $619 million -- is owed to the UN operating budget.

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May 1-3, 1998 volume 9, no. 85         DAILY CATHOLIC