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Azerbaijan: U.S. Would Like Aid Ban Lifted

Washington, 1 October 1997 (RFE/RL) - The U.S. State Department reiterated yesterday its view that a prohibition on direct U.S. economic aid to Azerbaijan should be relaxed.

Spokesman James Rubin told reporters the complete ban on aid to Azerbaijan hinders U.S. policy in the Caucasus and has "tied America's hands in its ability to promote peace in the region."

The ban was imposed by the U.S. Congress in 1992 to punish Azerbaijan for its economic blockade of Armenia. However, there is substantial support in Congress for a repeal of the law, and an amendment to eliminate the ban may be added this week to legislation funding U.S. foreign aid programs.

The influential Armenian American political lobby opposes aid to Azerbaijan. However, President Bill Clinton has said recently that the U.S. wants closer ties with Azerbaijan.