December 19, 2018 - 16:19 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Congressional Armenian Caucus has sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo calling for a strategic upgrade of U.S.-Armenia relations, reports the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
"We write to express our interest in transforming the United States-Armenia Joint Economic Task Force (USATF) into a platform for sustained strategic dialogue on the direction of our nation's increasingly impactful bilateral partnership with Armenia, based upon our shared interests, common values, and the enduring friendship between the American and Armenian peoples, the letter reads.
"Now is the time to build off Armenia's democratic progress, taking our bilateral relations to the next level - in the political, economic, military, and cultural arenas. As a complement to the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Council administered by the U.S. Trade Representative, the Task Force managed by our Department of State provides the perfect platform for setting the broad aims and policy objectives for our renewed and re-energized partnership - with a sharp focus on concrete bilateral initiatives that will drive short and midterm progress on key deliverables and shared goals.
"We respectfully encourage you to upgrade the next Task Force meeting to a strategic dialogue that supports the sustained escalation and regularization of high-level bilateral exchanges. In terms of democracy, we invite you to continue to expand U.S. support for anti-corruption, a strong civil society, and the independence of the media by creating working groups or mechanisms to advance reforms. This will leverage Armenia's real progress in these areas and the commitment made by the Administration to two years of additional democracy funding. Supp01i for a comprehensive democratic transition will secure needed progress in the economic realm, where we encourage you to prioritize a long overdue Tax Treaty, Social Security Agreement, expanding duty-free products, Debt-for-Forestation swaps, non-stop LAX to EVN flights, trade missions, and other related initiatives. We also hope you will take into account that Armenia suffers from a double blockade that deeply affects its economy. On the humanitarian front, we ask you to empower Armenia to continue serving as a safe haven for regional refugees, particularly at-risk ethnic and religious minorities. Finally, building upon Armenia's participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace and U.S.-lead global peacekeeping operations, we ask that you put in place policies and programs to broaden and deepen U.S.Armenia military cooperation."