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Central Asia: U.S. Congress Hears Appeals For Aid

Washington, 6 March 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Members of the U.S. Congress heard appeals yesterday for increased U.S. development aid to the Central Asian republics.

Thomas Dine, a top official of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), testified before a subcommittee of the House of Representatives. He defended a Clinton administration request to increase funding to Central Asia dramatically, from $96 million to nearly $150 million.

Dine said that U.S. backing is crucial to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan because they have embarked on a far-reaching economic and political transition that is taking longer than anyone expected.

Nancy Lubin, an independent consultant with 20 year's experience in Central Asia, testified at the same hearing that the region will benefit tremendously from a proposed new U.S. economic program for the former Soviet republics called Partnership for Freedom. It will channel $528 million to the former Soviet Union.