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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Getting U. S. Assistance Here Still a 'Complicated' Process

Even as the United States pledged to increase assistance to Russia, the director of the United State's Moscow aid office said in an interview Monday that providing aid to Russia is a complex and slow process.

"It is complicated in that there are a lot of actors on the Russian side and the U. S". , said James Norris of the U. S. Agency for International Development. "But in terms of where we were a year ago, when the programs were a gleam in the eye, we've come a long way".

Norris said the agency can take up to two years to meet with local officials, make assessments and complete a laborious competitive bidding process for contracts with U. S. companies.

Norris added that the agency, which administers the bulk of the $652 million in aid to the former Soviet Union committed before the Vancouver summit, is hiring 40 employees to add to its staff of 11.

He said he had received no directions yet from Washington concerning President Bill Clinton's pledges during the Vancouver summit, but he anticipated hearing more following the Group of Seven meeting scheduled for April 14-15 in Tokyo.

The agency has already approved contracts for about 50 grants for technical aid totaling about $182 million, he said. Norris said he anticipated that about $409 million in contracts would be approved by June and the rest of the present funds will be committed by the end of September.

Grants now under way range from $33 million to promote nuclear power plant safety to $175, 600 to establish a neonatal intensive care unit in a Moscow children's hospital.

Others target $22. 6 million to help Russians formulate laws necessary for a market economy; $14 million to aid the pharmaceutical industry and health care system; $9 million to support private social-services organizations; $8 million to advise civic groups, trade unions and news media; $5 million to restructure the banking system and fiscal reforms, and $4. 2 million to improve agricultural storage facilities, according to the agency.