ARZOUMANIAN CONTINUES US VISIT

WASHINGTON–On the third day of his working visit to the United States–Armenia’s Foreign Minister Alexander Arzoumanian met with Ambassador Richard Morningstar–special advisor to the President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on assistance to the Newly Independent States.

Arzoumanian expressed his gratitude for US governmental aid to Armenia–which–he said–has greatly contributed to the country’s transition toward a market economy. Arzoumanian said that it is now necessary to move from humanitarian aid to developmental assistance–focusing on the areas of technology and investmen’s.

Morningstar informed Arzoumanian that preparatory work on the Transcaucasian Enterprise Fund– in collaboration with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation–is currently underway–and an OPIC delegation will be visiting Armenia next month to discuss the process.

Discussing foreign investment opportunities in Armenia–Arzoumanian stressed the necessity of signing the Double Taxation Treaty between Armenia and the US to attract American businesses to Armenia– as well as the importance of expanding the Eurasia Foundation’s activities in Armenia.

Ambassador Morningstar assured Arzoumanian that the level of US assistance to Armenia would not decrease. IN addition–Morningstar discussed the possibilities of creating mechanisms for providing direct aid to Nagorno-Karabakh.

The current status of the US ban on direct governmental aid to Azerbaijan was also a topic of conversation. Arzoumanian noted that the solution to this problem might be available within the framework of regional cooperation.

The Armenian foreign minister also met with Lynn Davis–Under-Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Affairs–to discuss cooperation between the two countries in arms control and disarmament. Arzoumanian stressed the importance of the continuation of security dialogue on these issues and briefed Davis on the outcome of NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana’s recent visit to Armenia.

The parties also discussed the process of adoption of the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe–ratification of the Flank Agreement and Armenia’s participation in the Partnership for Peace program.

Arzoumanian also met with James Steinberg–Deputy Assistant to the President’s National Security Advisor. During the meeting–issues concerning the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict were discussed–as well as regional cooperation–Armenia’s relations with Turkey and Iran and Armenia’s position regarding the oil pipeline project.

With regard to the present stage of the peace process in the region–Arzoumanian underlined that Nagorno-Karabakh should not only be a participant of the Minsk Group negotiations–but have direct talks with Azerbaijan.

The foreign minister’s next meeting was on Capitol Hill–where he met with congressmen Frank Pallone and John Porter–co-chairmen of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues. Also present at the briefing were Rep. Anna Eshoo and Rep. Lloyd Doggett–members of the Armenian-American community and media representatives.

Rep. Pallone spoke about the activities of the Caucus and his recent trip to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Arzoumanian thanked the members of the Caucus for their invaluable assistance in sustaining US assistance to Armenia–and briefed the audience on recent developmen’s in the region. Arzoumanian reiterated Nagorno-Karabakh’s right to self-determination–which was stressed on a number of occasion by Pallone during his visit to the region.

Later that afternoon–Arzoumanian met with Ambassador Nelson Ledski–currently the president of the National Democratic Institute–to exchange views on Armenia’s progress in building a modern democratic society and agreed that the continuation of NDI’s activities in Armenia will facilitate the democratization process.

In the evening–Arzoumanian was the guest of honor at a reception at Washington’s Cosmos Club hosted by the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs. Arzoumanian described the recent developmen’s in the Caucasus and Armenia’s current relations with neighboring countries and answered questions from the audience. In attendance were former US ambassadors and former high-ranking government and military officials.

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