Clinton plans defence cuts

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WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bill Clinton is considering a cut of dollars 8.5bn ( pounds 6.9bn) in the military budget for the next fiscal year. The reduction would come from the military budget of pounds 267.8bn planned by President Bush and the former Defense Secretary, Dick Cheney

Congressional, Pentagon and defence industry sources said the cut would fall within the range of dollars 7bn to dollars 10bn. Mr Clinton is expected to present his economic stimulus package on 18 February, the day after his State of the Union address.

The Defense Secretary, Les Aspin, has sent a memorandum on the budget to the various military services that breaks down how the cuts will be made, with the army expected to trim dollars 2bn to dollars 2.5bn from its budget, the sources said.

During the campaign, Mr Clinton proposed defence cuts of dollars 60bn from Mr Bush's budget over a five-year period. Since some military construction, such as shipbuilding, takes many years, such a cut would result in an actual spending reduction next year of only about pounds 5bn, the sources estimated.