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Facing strong pressure from the United States and other countries to cut waste and inefficiency, the U.N. chief has proposed a budget that calls for reduced spending.

It was the first time in recent memory that the United Nations had proposed cutting its budget, U.N. spokesman Joe Sills said Thursday.For years, the United States has demanded that the U.N. cut costs. The demand has taken on greater urgency with the election of the Republican-controlled Congress.

In a letter Wednesday to all 185 member states, Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali proposed a $2.5 billion budget for 1996-97. That would be $110 million less than the previous budget. A copy of the letter was obtained by the Associated Press.

U.S. spokesman James P. Rubin welcomed the proposal, saying it was "consistent with the U.S. effort to ensure zero real growth in the U.N. budget."

The United States pays about a quarter of U.N. costs.

Boutros-Ghali wrote that $35 million wassaved through efficiency improvements and $93 million was cut by terminating programs that have either expired or were no longer needed.

Some savings were met by simplifying procedures and slashing some 140 jobs, Boutros-Ghali wrote.

Earlier this week, Ambassador Daniel L. Spiegel, the U.S. permanent representative to United Nations organizations in Geneva, briefed 13 key U.S. allies about the Clinton administration's concern over congressional plans to slash U.N. contributions.

"Such cuts would be a mistake of very tragic and historic proportions," Spiegel said in an interview with The Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal.

He said the allies - Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and Sweden - expressed "deep concern" over the cuts. With the United States, those countries pay more than two-thirds of U.N. assessments.

Spiegel said the proposed congressional cuts, ranging from 10 to 40 percent, would hurt attempts to reform the United Nations.