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Estonia: U.S. To Mark End Of Direct Economic Assistance

Washington, 11 September 1996 (RFE/RL) - The United States and Estonia will mark the end of U.S. government economic assistance programs for the Baltic nation in what the United States calls a "graduation" ceremony scheduled for Tallinn on Monday.

Leah Levin, spokeswoman for the U.S. Agency for International Development spokeswoman, says Estonia has progressed to the point where it no longer requires U.S. government aid. It will be the first Eastern European country to "graduate" from an economic assistance program established by the U.S. Congress to help former communist countries make the transition to free market economies.

Nearly all the goals of the U.S. assistance program have been met, Levin said. The United States believes Estonia and the United States now have a relationship based on shared values, mutual security interests and increased trade and investment, she said.

Thomas Dine, the agency's assistant administrator for Europe, will take part in the ceremonies in Tallinn with Estonian President Lennart Meri and Prime Minister Tiit Vahi.

Total U.S. aid to Estonia is about $30 million, in addition to another $20 million in agricultural assistance.