Bush seeks $70bn more for wars

George Bush, the US President is asking lawmakers for an estimated $70 billion to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through 30 September, the White House says.

    The money is to fund further military operations

    That will come on top of another $50 billion in a defence spending bill that the US Congress approved in December, at a time when the Pentagon estimates the monthly bill for the war in Iraq at about $4.5 billion and Afghanistan at $800 million.

    The White House will include the emergency $70 billion spending measure for this year on Monday when it releases its budget submission for the next fiscal year, which begins on 1 October, said Joel Kaplan, Bush's deputy budget director on Thursday.

    "We will include in the budget submission an estimated $70 billion. The actual figure, when we finalise, may be slightly higher or slightly lower than that," Kaplan told reporters on a conference call.

    The budget for next year will include a $50 billion set-aside to cover the war's anticipated needs in 2007, the official said.

    Kaplan refused to say how much money would go to reconstruction efforts in Iraq at a time when spending on those projects has drawn renewed scrutiny amid charges of fraud.

    Including the $70 billion request, military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan will have cost $390 billion since the September 11, 2001 terrorist strikes, he confirmed.



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