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Armenia Searching For More Foreign Loans

YEREVAN -- An Armenian government official says the country is seeking additional loans from lending institutions to cushion the effects of the global economic crisis on its economy.

Labor and Social Affairs Minister Arsen Hambardzumian told RFE/RL's Armenian Service today that the government is negotiating with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank, and others.

He said that "there are programs that have been tentatively approved" but some issues that need further talks.

The World Bank and the IMF pledged earlier this year to give more than $1 billion in loans to Armenia in the coming years. About $320 million of the loans have already been disbursed.

Armenia is also expected to receive a $500 million "stabilization credit" from Russia by June.

Hambardzumian said the new money being sought is meant to ease "social tension."

The Armenian economy contracted in the first quarter of this year for the first time since the early 1990s.