The State Department plans sharp cuts in potential military and economic aid for Pakistan, even if that country gives up its nuclear weapons program, according to a letter the department has sent to Congress.
Aid to Pakistan has been suspended since Oct. 1 because the Bush administration cannot conclude that Pakistan is not developing nuclear weapons.
In the letter obtained by the Associated Press, the department notified Congress of its plans that included less severe cuts for many other countries in final allocations of $15.5 billion for the current fiscal year. Last year's total was $14.6 billion.
Most foreign aid is appropriated without specifying recipients, and the administration is free to decide who gets how much.
The total for Pakistan was reduced from about $500 million to $208 million, and the bulk of the new amount will not be available unless U.S. officials are convinced the country is not developing nuclear weapons.
If President Bush does not lift the current restriction, aid designated for Pakistan would go to other countries.
Pakistan, a longtime U.S. friend in the Islamic world, says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto met with State Department officials on Friday to discuss U.S.-Pakistan relations.
State Department spokesman Margaret Tutwiler said officials are concerned over statements from members of Bhutto's opposition party that have criticized Pakistan's participation in the anti-Iraq coalition.
The Pakistan government has sent more than 10,000 troops to the Persian Gulf, but Bhutto's party has called for a pause in the fighting to allow a chance for a peaceful resolution.
Another country whose aid is to be slashed is Yemen, which opposed the U.N. Security Council's approval of use of force against Iraq. Yemen would receive only $2.9 million of the $22 million in economic assistance proposed by the White House before the U.N. vote. Yemen received $23 million last year.
Also cut was an allocation for the Philippines. The White House halved its $200 million proposed contribution to a U.S.-initiated assistance program that includes help from Japan and several other countries. Overall aid to the Philippines, however, will increase by about $4 million over last fiscal year's allocations to $473 million.
Congress enacted a provisional 50 percent cut in military aid to El Salvador, but Bush used his authority to reinstate the full amount earlier this month after certifying that it is justified by human rights and arms violations among leftist rebels. Bush said release of the money, however, would be postponed for 60 days to give peace talks a chance.