Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Sen. Brownback: Spend Iran Democracy Money

News Max:

Monday, Oct. 24, 2005 3:47 p.m. EDT

Six months after announcing a plan to give $3 million to promote democracy in Iran, the U.S. State Department has yet to release the funds, says a USA Today report.

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., who put the $3 million in the budget, expressed frustration: "This money should be made available immediately for those seeking to express their opposition to the hard-line Islamic government and to promote internationally recognized human rights.”

Tom Casey, a State Department spokesman, said the delay is bureaucratic. "There are no outside political considerations affecting these decisions,” he said.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack noted that projects to promote democracy had indeed been approved over the summer. However, no funds have been dispersed, he said, because the decision came too close to the beginning of the new fiscal year, which began Oct. 1.

McCormack added that the administration isn't planning to announce grantees for fear they would be harmed by the Iranian government.

The Iran effort was singular for the U.S., which hasn't tried to openly channel funds into Iran for such a purpose since breaking diplomatic relations with the Islamic government 25 years ago during the hostage crisis.

Iran is seen as having a major influence with militants in Iraq, where the U.S. is fighting to restore stability.

Brownback said human rights and democracy promotion in Iran "should remain top and pressing issues if we hope to achieve a freer and more prosperous Middle East.”


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