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Caucasus/Central Asia: U.S. Says Prosperity Aids Democracy

Washington, 20 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - U.S. Energy Secretary Federico Pena says the U.S. believes that prosperity in the Caucasus and Central Asia will speed the development of democracy in those regions.

He told a press conference in Washington yesterday that democracy and prosperity are synonymous, and he says he believes the leaders of the former Soviet states in the region share that view.

Pena spoke after convening an international conference on Caspian Sea oil development. Pena, who traveled extensively in Central Asia and the Caucasus earlier this month, said that in talks with leaders in the region, they stressed to him the need to vigorously promote democracy.

He also says the fact that many former Soviet republics are copying American political institutions demonstrates that democracy is taking root.