Minsk Group Calls for Resumption of Peace Talks

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–OSCE Minsk Group issued a statement–which states that the co-chairmen are trying to find a mutually acceptable basis for the resumption of negotiations within the shortest time–Armenia’s foreign minister Vardan Oskanian told a news conference.

Welcoming these efforts by the co-chairmen–Armenia believes that such a basis has already been proposed by the co-chairmen–which–however–was rejected by Azerbaijan.

"The only possible option for resumption of the negotiations is to insist on those proposals–whereas any possible deviations must correspond to the generally accepted principles," the minister noted–assuring that Armenia will remain committed to a comprehensive proposal to resume negotiatons without preliminary conditions.

Oskanian said he was unaware of any new proposals being developed by the co-chairmen. He stressed that Armenia’supported direct dialogue between Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan which would only speed up the peace process. He regretted that Azerbaijan does not share this opinion.

Oskanian said he was satisfied with the fact that for the first time the co-chairmen presented to nine members of the Minsk group their latest proposals regarding the Karbakh conflict settlement.

Armenia is planning to open its embassies in the United Arab Emirates to represent Armenia’s interest in the Persian Gulf countries–foreign minister Vardan Oskanian told journalists Friday.

He noted that the Persian Gulf countries are Armenia’s important partners–with which no normal relations have been established so far. Recent visit by the foreign minister to these countries were aimed at filling in this gap. On February 6-9 Oskanian visited Qatar–Kuwait and UAE. However–in the United Arab Emirates–Oskanian had no official meetings because of the mourning in connection with the death of Jordan’s King Hussein.

According to Vardan Oskanian–Armenia may boost its economic cooperation with the Gulf states. These countries know that close relations with Armenia are important because of issues such as Caspian oil and the Israel-Turkey military alliance.

In Qatar–Oskanian met with emir and foreign minister of that country–while in Kuwait–he met with vice-prime minister and minister of trade and industry. An agreement was reached with the officials of Kuwait to develop legal underpinnings for bilateral relations between the two countries. In addition–plans of holding a business forum in Kuwait was discussed.

Oskanian also attended the funeral of King Hussein in Jordan. The fact that the new King of Jordan received Armenia’s foreign minister testifies to the Arab countries’ interest in Armenia.

Oskanian described as "very efficient" his visit to Egypt and emphasized the importance of further development of relations with that country. Oskanian said that the appointment of deputy foreign minister Sergey Manssarian as Armenian ambassador to Egypt–was to "keep the relations with that country on a high level."

In Egypt–Oskanian met with his counterpart Amr Mussa–chairman of the Egyptian parliament Surur–and Secretary General of the Arab League Ismat Abdul Mehid. The sides discussed Armenia’s position on the settlement of the Karabakh conflict and other regional processes.

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