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Armenian Speaker Meets U.S. Congressional Leaders


U.S. -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi meets with Armenian parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan (C) in Washington, July 16, 2019.

Parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan reportedly called for greater U.S. assistance to Armenia when he met with U.S. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell in Washington on Tuesday.

Mirzoyan also held a separate meeting with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the sidelines of an international forum held in the U.S. capital. According to the Armenian parliament’s press office, he briefed Pelosi on ongoing developments in Armenia and thanked her for her “contribution to U.S.-Armenian relations.”

Pelosi has long supported measures championed by the Armenian community in the United States, notably draft resolutions recognizing the 1915 Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey. Her California constituency has a large number of ethnic Armenians.

In a separate statement, the office said Mirzoyan discussed with McConnell “possibilities of increasing financial assistance provided by the United States to Armenia.” It said they also talked about Armenia’s foreign policy and energy security as well as “regional stability.”

U.S. -- U.S. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell meets with Armenian parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan, Washington, July 16, 2019.
U.S. -- U.S. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell meets with Armenian parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan, Washington, July 16, 2019.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian complained in March about America’s “zero reaction” to democratic change in his country. He seemed unhappy with the fact that there has been no significant increase in U.S. economic assistance to Yerevan since last year’s “velvet revolution” which brought him to power.

The U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, Lynne Tracy, countered afterwards that in 2018 Washington provided $26.7 million in assistance to Armenia in addition to an ongoing $66 million aid program implemented by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

A U.S.-Armenian “strategic dialogue” held in Yerevan in May was followed by an announcement that the U.S. government will provide up to $16 million in fresh aid to the South Caucasus nation. In addition, the USAID promised $6 million in support of the Pashinian government’s “democratic reform agenda.”

And in June, the U.S. House of Representatives approved $40 million in “democracy assistance” to Yerevan to be allocated next tear. The figure is considerably higher than annual aid levels set by the U.S. Congress in recent years.

Overall U.S. aid to Armenia has exceeded $2 billion since 1992.

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