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State Dept. Aide Decries Congress' Cuts

October 10, 1987|NORMAN KEMPSTER | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Congressional restrictions on the State Department budget will force the department to abandon programs, close some embassies and consulates around the world and lay off about 8% of its staff, leaving the agency without "the resources to do our job," department spokesman Charles Redman said Friday.

Redman said not all details of the cuts have been decided but they will fall heavily on personnel reductions because "the great bulk of our expenditures (is for) salaries and expenses for people."

The Washington Post reported Friday that 1,270 jobs would be eliminated from the department's total of 15,800 diplomatic, administrative and clerical positions. Redman said those numbers are "reasonably accurate."

The Senate is considering a $3.6-billion authorization bill for the department for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. The House earlier approved a $3.9-billion version. President Reagan had requested $4.5 billion.

Ceiling for Spending

The authorization bill sets the ceiling for spending during the fiscal year. Actual appropriations are expected to be substantially lower. State Department officials said they expect to receive less than $3 billion, about the same as last year, although inflation and the declining value of the dollar have increased their expenses.

In recent years, Congress has made deep cuts in the budget for diplomatic missions, foreign aid and other State Department programs.

The department announced earlier that about a dozen consulates would be closed. Officials said Friday that some embassies, mostly in small African countries, would be eliminated also.

Redman denounced the Senate for tacking riders onto the authorization bill to require the Soviet Union to tear down and relocate its new embassy in Washington and force the Palestine Liberation Organization to close its New York office.

Suited for Espionage

The Senate had indicated that the still unoccupied Soviet embassy complex on Washington's Mt. Alto was too well suited for electronic espionage, demanding that the Soviets move their compound to a site at a lower elevation.

Redman said the locations for the new Soviet embassy in Washington and the new U.S. Embassy in Moscow were negotiated long ago. He said the legislation would require Reagan to unilaterally abrogate the treaty and implied that the President would refuse to do so.

"The effects of this could be so drastic as to raise constitutional problems regarding the President's foreign affairs authority," he said.

Redman also complained that the Senate's order to close the PLO office at the United Nations in New York would violate U.S. obligations under the treaty governing U.N. operations in New York. The treaty allows the United Nations to accredit foreign missions regardless of whether they have diplomatic relations with the United States.

The State Department recently ordered the PLO to close its Washington office, a step that was intended to head off congressional legislation requiring closure of the New York office as well.

Redman said the Administration will attempt to persuade a House-Senate committee to remove both amendments before preparing the bill for final action.

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