ANCA Briefs Gephardt on Armenian American Issues

BEVERLY HILLS–Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region representatives met with former House Minority Leader–Congressman Richard Gephardt at a Beverly Hills function where the Congressman was seeking support for his candidacy.

ANCA-WR Government Relations Director Ardashes Kassakhian briefed the Congressman on a wide range of Armenian American issues. Kassakhian thanked Gephardt for his support of House Resolution 193–which marks the 15th anniversary of the Proxmire Act and specifically mentions the Armenian Genocide. He also urged the Congressman to keep fighting for a floor vote on the bill.

"I am very aware how important this issue is to the [Armenian] community and I’ve always stood by you," affirmed Congressman Gephardt. "I will always be there to support you."

Kassakhian also briefed the Congressman on H. Res. 528–a bill that would permanently normalize trade relations between Armenia and the US. During their discussion–Kassakhian mentioned that Armenian-Americans were concerned about the amount of support that Turkey has been receiving in light of their actions during the Iraq war. He pointed out that Turkey continues its illegal blockade of Armenia. Kassakhian invited Gephardt to meet with community leaders to further discuss the concerns and needs of the Armenian-American community.

The ANCA-WR has launched an outreach campaign to all of the candidates vying for the presidency in 2004 to seek out their positions on Armenian issues. In addition to the outreach campaign–candidates are asked to answer a questionnaire prepared by the ANCA detailing their positions. On May 26–ANCA-WR representatives met with Senator Edwards–another leading Democratic candidate for the party’s nomination–to brief him and discuss similar issues.

"We will gauge candidates’ support and commitment to those issues that are dear to us as Armenian-American voters," stated Kassakhian. "We plan to meet with every candidate leading up to the primary elections in 2004."

Congressman Gephardt was first elected in 1976 to represent Missouri’s Third Congressional District. As a House freshman–he served on both the Ways and Means and Budget Committees. Congressman Gephardt served as Democratic Leader of the US House of Representatives–Majority Leader of the House–and as one of the nation’s leading Democrats for much of the last two decades.

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