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IREX NGO's Exit From Azerbaijan 'A Blow' Says U.S. Official

The United States says the U.S. nongovernmental organization IREX's decision to halt its work in Azerbaijan amid pressure from authorities will hurt democracy-promotion efforts in the country.

"We have greatly valued IREX's efforts to support independent, professional media and to facilitate people-to-people ties," a U.S. State Department official said in a statement to RFE/RL.

"The closure of IREX in Azerbaijan represents a blow to this important work," the official added.

IREX ceased its operations in Azerbaijan on September 30. It said earlier this year that its bank assets there were frozen due to a "criminal investigation" launched against several Azerbaijani and international NGOs.

U.S. officials "understand" IREX made the decision "following pressure from the Azerbaijani government," including "a police raid on its offices."

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