US Ambassador to Armenia Briefs Congressional Armenian Caucus

LAUNCHES WEBSITE HIGHLIGHTING US ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS TO ARMENIA

WASHINGTON–DC–US Ambassador to Armenia John Ordway was on Capitol Hill Wednesday to brief Members of Congress and staff about the current situation in Armenia–ongoing US assistance programs–and the recently concluded US-Armenia Task Force meetings–reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

The briefing–hosted by the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues–included Caucus Co-Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ)–who was joined by Representatives Shelly Berkley (D-NV)–Phil English (R-PA)–Steven Rothman (D-NJ)–Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) and a host of Congressional staff. Noting that Armenia is the second highest per-capita recipient of US foreign assistance after Israel–Ordway explained that the funds represent "a very effective use of taxpayer dollars," and that the success of the programs is "largely due to the Armenia’s themselves being such good partners."

The Ambassador provided an overview of the US-Armenia Task Force (USATF) meetings that concluded earlier in the day. He outlined a number of issues that were discussed including the fight against corruption–law enforcement–banking sector reforms–international trade and energy. The USATF meets on a semiannual basis to review bilateral assistance programs and economic policy.

Ordway and USAID-Armenia Director Keith Simmons responded to a series of questions about poverty reduction efforts in Armenia–Armenia’s eligibility for Millennium Challenge Account funding–Mountainous Karabagh peace talks–and energy sector reforms.

NEW WEBSITE HIGHLIGHTS ASSISTANCE AND SUCCESSES

Ambassador Ordway also announced the launch of a special section on the US Embassy-Yerevan website that provides information on a broad spectrum of US assistance programs in Armenia.

The site–www.usa.am/assistance–lists comprehensive information on US programs carried out in each of Armenia’s regions–as well as an overall listing of some 27 assistance programs–including agricultural/farming–banking–democracy development–education–social/health–etc.

The launch comes just days after the Senate approved the fiscal year 2004 foreign aid budget which includes a $75 million allocation for Armenia–$3.4 million in military assistance–and a $5 million assistance package for Mountainous Karabagh. During the coming weeks–the Congressional appropriators will be holding a conference to work out differences in the Senate and House versions of the foreign aid bill.

"Initiatives such as this briefing and the highly informative US Embassy website–underscore the important contribution of US assistance in helping the people of Armenia overcome the devastating impact of the dual Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We encourage Armenian Americans to continue to stay in touch with their legislators to support increased US assistance to Armenia and efforts to promote US-Armenia trade and investment."

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