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House okays reduced covert aid

The House on Wednesday approved a 1991 intelligence bill that would curb U.S. support for Cold War conflicts in Angola, Afghanistan and Cambodia. On a voice vote, lawmakers endorsed a compromise bill that had been worked out behind closed doors late last week by members of the House and Senate intelligence committees. The bill was sent to the Senate, which was expected to follow suit.

Rep. Gerald Solomon, R-N.Y., said there were indications President Bush would "hold his nose and let the bill become law" despite congressional dictates.

The negotiators provided for a suspension of U.S. covert weapons supplies for the UNITA guerillas in Angola if the Marxist government in Luanda agrees to free elections and a cease-fire and the Soviet Union halts its own weapons shipments. UNITA is the Portuguese acronym for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola.

Whether the conditions for a suspension of aid to UNITA have been met would be left up to President Bush.

Military aid represents roughly half the $60-million annual U.S. support for the rebels.

The bill also will pend the U.S. covert aid program to non-communist rebels fighting the Vietnamese-backed communist government of Cambodia. The program, which sources say amounts to about $13-million, will be phased out early in 1991 and converted into humanitarian aid to the rebels and other Cambodians.

And aid to the mujahedin, the rebels fighting the Soviet-supported government of Afghanistan, will be trimmed from Bush's request for $300-million to $250-million, sources said.