WASHINGTON (AP) – The Bush administration tried to shoot down an effort yesterday by some House Republicans to cut aid to Turkey, while the House and Senate debated bills providing nearly $80 billion for the initial costs of the Iraq war and other anti-terrorism expenses.

Trying to fend off a drive to remove the $1 billion the measure contains for Iraq’s northern neighbor, the White House circulated letters to lawmakers from National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Richard Armitage, deputy secretary of state, supporting the aid.

“Despite recent difficulties, the president is devoted to maintaining the strategic partnership” between the two countries, Rice wrote.

Critics of Turkey were considering trying to erase the aid, arguing its refusal to admit a U.S. invasion force has hindered the war against Iraq. Rice and Armitage said that with Turkey allowing U.S. fly-overs, allowing the passage of supply convoys and limiting its forces in unstable northern Iraq, it remained a crucial regional ally.

In the Senate, Democrats pushed long-shot amendments setting aside funds for veterans and to counter bioweapons and missiles fired at airliners as part of an effort to add billions to the bill for enhancing safety at home.

The Senate bill also included $30 million to help prosecute Saddam Hussein and establish temporary U.S. diplomatic headquarters in Iraq.

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