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Palestinians give back 30 million dollar to US

Written by: Staff
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WASHINGTON, Mar 2 (Reuters) The interim Palestinian government has refunded 30 million dollar in aid to the United States because the funds would have reached an authority led by Hamas, which Washington lists as a terrorist group.

David Welch, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, told lawmakers today the money was returned yesterday and the Palestinian Authority had promised to refund a further 20 million dollar before Hamas took over.

''There should be by the time this interim caretaker government leaves office, no U S taxpayer dollars in their (Hamas') hands,'' Welch told the U S House of Representatives International Relations Committee.

The militant group Hamas, which is responsible for many suicide bombings in Israel, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the Bush administration cannot under U S law give it any direct assistance.

Since Hamas' victory in the Palestinian election in January, the U S State Department has launched a review of its aid programs and the return of the million is part of that assessment.

MORE REUTERS SI KP2354

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