US gives Jordan extra aid to increase security

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AMMAN, Sep 17 (Reuters) Washington today gave Jordan, a staunch West Asian ally, an extra 78 million dollars in mostly security aid to bolster the country's defences, bringing total assistance this year to 532 million dollars, officials said.

Planning Minister Suhair al-Ali told reporters after signing the agreement with US ambassador David Hale the kingdom was lobbying to raise the amount of supplemental aid it received in recent years for its strong backing of US policies in the region.

''As a government we continue to work with the US to increase that percentage of cash assistance to the budget,'' al-Ali said.

The extra aid is beyond the annual economic and military aid package of 454 million dollars that has been appropriated for the current fiscal year, which ends on September. 30 2007.

Most of the supplemental aid is earmarked to boost border security and anti-terrorism training, officials said.

After the US led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Washington doubled its annual grants to Jordan to around 450 million - dollars 250 million dollars in economic aid and 200 million dollars in military assistance.

Jordanian officials complain the kingdom gets less aid than other key regional allies, Egypt and Israel.

But US officials say the aid programme to Jordan is among the largest in the world and the kingdom has received a total of over 7 billion dollars, including 4 billion dollars in economic aid and 3 billion dollars in military help.

REUTERS SKB RK1730

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