Darbinian Discusses Karabakh in Washington

WASHINGTON (RFE/RL–Itar-Tass)–Prime Minister Armen Darbinian reaffirmed Armenia’s policy on resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute with Azerbaijan–saying there must be no pre-conditions for a settlement.

At a briefing in Washington sponsored by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty–Darbinian also said that Armenia believed that Nagorno Karabakh has the right to freely choose its own future–adding that it could not be a part of Azerbaijan.

Darbinian said Armenia was ready to resume settlement negotiations at any time. However–he added that Armenia would not agree to Azeri deman’s for the return first of territory seized by the Armenia’s. He said there could be no step-by-step process for resumption of talks.

The prime minister met Monday with officials from the World Bank–the International Monetary Fund and the Department of Energy. He also met with Don Pressley–Deputy Assistant for Europe and the Newly Independent States for the US Agency for International Development.

Darbinian is in Washington to take part in IMF and World Bank meetings. His deputy chief of staff Levon Arevshatyan told Itar-Tass that Armenia goes to the forum with new approaches. Unlike in preceding years–the republic now makes its own programs–which are then submitted for IMF’s consideration.

These programs outline Armenia’s priorities–concrete reform patterns in different spheres. The Armenian government considers it as the main achievement of the new cabinet–as earlier credit programs used to be made up by IMF experts.

Arevshatyan discussed a complex new program aiming to develop of Armenia’s energy sector between 1998 and 2001.

He added that the prime minister would seek more favorable options–in order to ensure resolutions to such issues increases in wages–pensions and salaries.

"We must ensure the economic growth by focusing on the people," Arevshatyan said.

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