Bush urges vote on chemical weapons He also backs repaying U.S. debt to U.N., boosting foreign-affairs spending


HOUSTON -- Secretary of State Madeleine Albright received strong backing yesterday from former President George Bush for a treaty to ban chemical weapons, as well as for an increase in spending on foreign affairs and a plan by the Clinton administration to repay the United States' debt to the United Nations.

Appearing with Albright after breakfast at his home here, Bush said the United States needs to approve the treaty banning chemical weapons before it goes into effect in April. More than 60 nations have already ratified it, but the Senate has resisted bringing it to a vote.

Bush's support was hardly surprising; the treaty was negotiated during his term in office. But for Albright, the public expression of support from a Republican former president was a culmination of a two-day visit here intended to infuse the administration's foreign policy with the aura of bipartisanship.

"This should be beyond partisanship," Bush said of the chemical weapons ban.

"I have a certain fatherhood feeling about that, but leaving that out, I think it is vitally important for the United States to be out front, not to be dragged kicking and screaming to the finish line on that question," he said.

Bush, appearing with Albright and his wife, Barbara, in the driveway outside his home here, also ridiculed what he called the "stupid feeling in some quarters" that the United States did not need to maintain financing for diplomacy abroad.

Bush, who served as the U.S. delegate to the United Nations from 1971 to 1973, also said it was of "fundamental importance" that the United States repay the more than $1 billion in dues it has refused to pay for three years.

Pub Date: 2/09/97

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