US Praises Armenia’s Privatization Efforts

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Prime Minister Armen Darbinian met with the US presidential advisor on national security James Steinberg in the White House Wednesday.

Steinberg asked Darbinian to brief him on possible consequences of the economic crisis in Russia and current problems of Armenia’s economic development.

"We hail the approaches of your government in the processes of privatization which are aimed at creating effective conditions for the long-term use of existing capabilities and not at deriving disposable profit," the US official underlined.

The sides also discussed current problems of regional cooperation.

"The international community highly assesses Armenia’s participation in the TRACECA Program as well as steps taken by the Armenian government to establish an atmosphere of mutual trust in the region," commented Steinberg.

Darbinian also attended a panel discussion organized at the Carnegie Center for Political Studies. Presenting Armenia’s political priorities–the prime minister stressed that "we don’t accept any preliminary conditions to resume Karabakh peace talks.

He added that Armenia did not accept a "phased" solution to the conflict. "We are sure that Nagorno Karabakh historically has the complete legal right to become an independent state or unite with Armenia."

Darbinian reiterated Armenia’s position: "Karabakh can’t be regarded as part of Azerbaijan."

Darbinian also met with US Undersecretary of State Strobe Talbot to discuss issues of economic cooperation between Armenia and the United States–political processes in the Caucasus as well as trends of technical assistance being rendered to Armenia.

Darbinian also met with the head of the US Agency for Trade and Development Joseph Grandmason to discuss investment programs in Armenia.

Following a seminar on energy reforms in Armenia–where Darbinian outlined his country’s economic growth in the past year–the prime minister signed several memoranda with various American businesses.

Among the businesses which signed agreemen’s with Armenia were Arial International aiming to expand gas reserves in the Abovian region; Southern California Edison for the development of profits in the power energy sector; and IBM for the development and enhancement of Armenia’s Transistor Corp.

The energy forum was organized by the Armenian government and the US Energy Association and was funded by the US Agency for International Development.

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