By Emil Danielyan
The U.S.-Armenian Task Force on economic cooperation, which increasingly oversees ongoing American government assistance to Armenia, will hold a regular session in Washington at the end of this month, officials said on Monday.
Preparations for the meeting were discussed the same day by President Robert Kocharian and U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Ordway. Kocharian’s office said the two men talked about ways of strengthening bilateral economic ties “within the framework of the Task Force.” But it gave no details.
The previous meeting of the intergovernmental body took place in Yerevan last January and focused on the use of continuing U.S. aid to Armenia, the total amount of which has exceeded $1.4 billion since 1992. U.S. officials said afterwards that their assistance programs will increasingly reflect the Armenian government’s proposals.
“We agreed to coordinate the priorities of the use of that assistance on a regular basis through the [Armenian] ministry of finance and through our meetings every six months,” Ambassador Bill Taylor, the American co-chairman of the task force, said at the time. Taylor coordinates Washington’s aid to Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics.
The January meeting discussed specific assistance requests from six Armenian government agencies, including the ministries of agriculture, urban development and industry. Officials said the proposals are in tune with the Armenian government’s broader poverty reduction strategy.
The task force was created in January 2000 with the aim of ensuring better use of American aid and facilitating bilateral commercial links. Overall assistance to Armenia from various U.S. government agencies stood at $110 million last year, $94 million of which was earmarked by the U.S. Congress.