Ambassador Ordway Kicks off West Coast Visit in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO–US Ambassador to Armenia John Ordway–and Mission Director for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Keith Simmons–visited the Bay Area Armenian-American community last Wednesday and Thursday–meeting with representatives of various area organizations.

Visiting the Bay Area’s only Armenian-American day school–the Krouzian-Zekarian-Vaspouragan School on Thursday–the ambassador toured classrooms and answered questions from curious students. He then met for two hours with representatives of the Bay Area Armenian National Committee–and the local chapters of the Armenian Relief Society–Armenian Revolutionary Federation–Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society–HMEM–AYF–Ararat–and Armenian Technology Group. Also joining the visit was Raffi Kojian–the Outreach Coordinator for the Program Office of USAID.

Ambassador Ordway addressed concerns of representatives about the effectiveness of the distribution of US aid in Armenia–the US State Department’s opposition to Armenian Genocide recognition and its position on the independence of Karabagh and the continuing Turkish blockade of Armenia and Karabagh.

While re-iterating the US position supporting the "territorial integrity" of Azerbaijan–Ordway indicated Karabagh’s need to secure borders.

Regarding recognition of the Armenian Genocide–Ordway acknowledged the administration’s long-standing policy to reject official recognition–and favorably noted various ongoing efforts to bring Turks and Armenia’s to a dialogue.

Ordway said he saw no direct benefit for Armenia resulting from the planned Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline that would run from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey–although more logical route would have been through Armenia–he stressed.

US AID Mission Director Keith Simmons encouraged Diaspora organizations to bid for USAID contracts–and congratulated the ANC in its successful efforts to create a California-Armenia Trade Office.

Ordway has been the US Ambassador to Armenia’since November–2001. He has experience in Soviet and Russian affairs–European security–conflict resolution and peacekeeping operations. He has been in the Foreign Service since 1975–with a recent post in Moscow. John Ordway was born in California–attended Stanford University and is also a graduate of the University of California’s Hastings College of Law. He and his wife–Maryjo–have two college-aged children–Christopher and Julia.

On Wednesday the Ambassador and US AID representatives also met with other organizations and churches–visiting Mt. Davidson Cross which is now owned by the Armenian community as a memorial to the Armenian Genocide–and attended a gathering hosted by the Armenian Professional Society. A video about US AID projects in Armenia was also presented at the Ambassador’s various community visits.

In Los Angeles–Ambassador Ordway and AID’s Simmons will be meeting privately on Sunday–June 8 from 6-7 PM with Central Committee members of the ARF Western Region–and ANC-WR Board members; from 7-8 PM–they will meet with heads of organizations and institutions.

The Ambassador and Simmons will appear live on Horizon TV’s "Face to Face with Saro Nazarian." The program will run from 8-9 PM on Sunday–June 8.

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