Armenia and Georgia have been selected to receive US aid under the 'Challenges of the Century' program run by the US State Department. The 16 countries are, in addition to Armenia and Georgia: Benin, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Ghana, Honduras, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Senegal, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu.
The 16 were chosen from among the 63 poorest countries in the world as the countries in that group most active in combating corruption, moving toward a market economy and protecting civil rights. The total aid to be disbursed comes to USD 1 billion in 2004 and USD 2.5 billion in 2005. The funds are to be used for economic development and to combat poverty.
According to Russian officials, the detainees are employees of the private security company who were on their way to Latin America via Minsk and Istanbul. Lukashenko calls Russian officials liars