WASHINGTON D.C./VILNIUS, Nov 07, BNS – The U.S. Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee has approved an amendment facilitating resumption of military assistance to Lithuania and other future members of NATO. The American Service Members Protection Act, which was passed in 2002, was initiated by the committee members Democrat Joseph Biden of Delaware and Republican Gordon Smith of Oregon, the Lithuanian Embassy in the United States said. The amendment was supported unanimously during a vote on Thursday. In the summer, the United States froze military assistance programs to Lithuania and four other future NATO members and Columbia on the grounds of their refusal to commit to not handing U.S. citizens to the International Criminal Court. Lithuanian Ambassador in the U.S. Vygaudas Usackas stressed this was the first but very important step towards resumption of U.S. military assistance to Lithuania. For the amendment to take effect, it has to be approved by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. “This is yet another affirmation of the United States considering us a serious and reliable ally,” Lithuanian Defense Minister Linas Linkevicius told BNS on Friday in comment of the amendment. “We have always said that the U.S. decision to freeze military assistance was a general measure and was not aimed directly against Lithuania. Our relations with the U.S. are closest they have ever been,” said the minister. If both chambers of the U.S. Congress support the amendment, Lithuania would receive 7.5 million U.S. dollars in military assistance and 1.3 million U.S. dollars for military training and education. In June 2003, shortly before the suspension of military aid, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry and U.S. representatives signed agreements on granting 12 million U.S. dollars worth of military assistance to Lithuania in the framework of the Foreign Armed Forces Financing Program. Some one million of the money went to logistical support of Lithuania’s international missions. For another 11 million U.S. dollars, the United States will give Lithuania over 70 of Humvee cross-country vehicles of various modifications, their spare parts and repairs tools, as well as train personnel. These vehicles will be used by priority units of the quick-reaction brigade currently under formation. In the 1997-2002 period, Lithuania has received about 50 million U.S. dollars from the United States in the framework of programs of Foreign Armed Forces Funding, International Troops Training and other. This money was used for the development of the joint Baltic air space observation system, the Baltic peacekeeping battalion, training sessions and other projects. 071132