Armenia Offers to Mediate Between Iran and Israel

JERUSALEM (BBC)–During his visit to Jerusalem Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian offered to have his country mediate between Israel and Iran–with which Armenia maintains close relations.

Speaking to journalists–the Armenian minister said that the impression he gathered in two visits to Tehran–which included talks with President Mohammad Khatami–was that the Iranians were also interested–although their emerging dtente with the West is aimed primarily at the US.

Oskanian expressed willingness to "revive" Armenia’s relations with Israel.

To this end–he said–Industry and Trade Minister Natan Sharansky will include Armenia in an forthcoming regional tour with a delegation of businessmen. Armenia does not have an ambassador in Israel–and the current visit is only the second ever by an Armenian foreign minister since the country’s independence.

Oskanian–who was born in Syria and educated in the USA–pointed out that Armenia understands Israel’s need for an alliance with Turkey and does not feel directly hurt by it.

"An indirect negative outcome could occur if Israel were to be dragged by Azerbaijan into a policy of isolating Armenia," he said.

He called on Israel–the country of the Jewish people–"to evince moral leadership" and recognize the Armenian Genocide in spite of pressures by Turkey–which refuses to accept responsibility for that crime.

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