YEREVAN (PanArmenian.Net)–Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the US realizes the importance of maintaining aid parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan–but providing more military aid to Azerbaijan than Armenia is offset by the fact that Armenia received a grant through the Millennium Challenge Account–while Azerbaijan did not.
"This is a matter of individual needs and deman’s–however we remember it is necessary to keep parity. We now work with both parties," said Rice.
Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair–Representative Joe Knollenberg (R-MI)–pointed out to Secretary Rice that–because of the Karabagh conflict–Armenia and Azerbaijan preferred that the parties be treated in the same manner.
In response–Rice said "parity cannot be kept for the sake of parity–one should try to establish normal relations between the parties and help them."
Rice added that–"Azerbaijan is not ready to take part in the Millennium Challenge Account now and we would not like Armenia to have an upper hand in the issue. The slight difference in the assistance to the two states can be endured."
The US budget for fiscal year 2007 allocates $4.5 million to Azerbaijan and $3.5 million to Armenia in military assistance.
Providing more military aid to Azerbaijan goes against the agreement struck between the White House and Congress in 2001 to maintain parity in US military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan. This informal agreement was reached when President Clinton was allowed to waive previous legislation prohibiting any military aid to Azerbaijan.