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Shultz Confers With Brunei Official in Singapore

June 20, 1987|Associated Press

SINGAPORE — Secretary of State George P. Shultz met Friday with the foreign minister of Brunei, the first such meeting since it was disclosed that the State Department solicited $10 million from Brunei last year for the Nicaraguan contras.

Shultz met Foreign Minister Mohammed Bolkiah for half an hour during consultations with members of the Assn. of Southeast Asian Nations. Brunei is a member of the association, along with Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand.

When asked if they discussed the $10 million the State Department solicited for the U.S.-backed rebels, a U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity said: "They both agreed the matter had been resolved and was something in the past."

Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams asked the Sultan of Brunei, the foreign minister's brother, to donate the money last year, and the funds were sent to a Swiss bank.

In Wrong Account

However, the money was mistakenly deposited in the account of a wealthy Swiss businessman.

Brunei is expected to get the money back, but it is not known if it will get an estimated $253,000 in interest that the unidentified businessman earned from the money.

The State Department has asserted that it did no wrong in seeking the money, which it said was to be used for humanitarian assistance for the rebels. At the time of the request to Brunei, direct U.S. assistance to the contras for military equipment was banned by Congress.

The U.S. official who briefed reporters on the meeting said, "It seemed on both sides to be assumed (the money) was coming back" to Brunei.

When asked if Brunei plans to make the contribution again, the official said: "I didn't see any indication of that."

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