Nation IN BRIEF : WASHINGTON, D.C. : U.S. Role Questioned on Bad Iraqi Loan

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

The chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee demanded that the Agriculture Department explain why it paid $360.7 million to a bank partly owned by Iraq as part of $1 billion in reimbursements to banks that made pre-war loans to Saddam Hussein's government. "At a time when we are all concerned that the government of Iraq continues to act in an outlaw fashion under the leadership of Saddam Hussein, I am very concerned that this payment sends a dangerous signal to the government of Iraq," Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Edward R. Madigan. The Times has reported that Gulf International Bank, owned by Iraq and six other Persian Gulf nations, received the payment from the Commodity Credit Corp., an agency of the Agriculture Department.

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