US writes Ukraine off from balance

 US writes Ukraine off from balance

The Donald Trump administration's budget proposal would convert some of the United States' foreign military grants to loans, part of a larger effort to slash spending on diplomacy, aid and programs abroad by more than 29%, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, said.

The cuts to programs under the State Department are in part meant to fund an increase in military spending.

The State Department decides which countries are given the financing while the Pentagon executes the decisions. Under the Trump proposal, many current grants would instead be converted to loans.

"We do change a couple of the foreign military programs from direct grants to loans. Our argument was instead of ... giving somebody $100 million, we could give them a smaller number worth of loan guarantees and they could actually buy more stuff," Reuters cited Mulvaney as saying.

Military aid to Israel and Egypt, two close U.S. allies in the Middle East and the biggest recipients of U.S. military assistance, will remain unchanged, Mulvaney said.

The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the proposal, said the foreign military grants could affect Pakistan, Tunisia, Lebanon, Ukraine, Colombia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Most grants through the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program go to Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Iraq.

Mulvaney said that aid to Pakistan would be reduced, though he did not give concrete details.

"(The) State (Department) still has some flexibility to come up with a final plan on that, but I do know that writ large we have proposed to move several countries from a direct grant program to a loan guarantee program," he said.

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