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Americans support the United Nations but don't want to pay for it, according to a poll released May 11 by the United Nations Association of the United States (UN-USA).

The survey of about 2,000 people showed 45 percent of Americans thought the United Nations was doing a good job. Thirty-five percent disagreed and 20 percent had no opinion. Conservatives and men ranked the UN higher than liberals and women did.

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But support was weak for expensive UN operations such as peacekeeping activities and aid to poor nations, indicating that Americans in time of recession were reluctant to underwrite foreign assistance.

Washington owes the UN more than half a billion dollars for dues and peacekeeping operations.

Asked which projects Americans thought worthy of funding, a majority favored financing UN drug control and environmental efforts. Population control also received strong support.

The poll, conducted by the Roper Organization, also disclosed that the increase in overall support for the UN was largely due to Republicans and men rather than liberal Democrats and women, who previously had been its prime backers.

An official of UN-USA, Jeffrey Laurenti, told a news conference he thought the Security Council's backing of the US-led Gulf war against Iraq was largely responsible for new perceptions of the organization.

He said there appeared to be a "sense among conservatives and men that the United Nations had finally shown it can take a decision and act tough." The contrary was true for women and liberals, who opposed the use of force.

The Roper poll had a margin of error of three percentage points. UN-USA is dedicated to strengthening and providing information on the UN.

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