Kocharian Aliyev Meet in Washington

WASHINGTON (Itar-Tass)–President Robert Kocharian met his Azeri counterpart Haydar Aliyev Monday to discuss a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The two leaders were in Washington to attend celebrations for the 50th anniversary of NATO.

Kocharian and Aliyev met for two hours–with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright attending the first portion of the meeting.

Asked by Itar-Tass to describe the results of the meeting–Kocharian said that it could be ranked "among the most useful ones in recent timed," and that it had inspired him with fresh "optimism."

"We agreed to have more contacts," the Armenian president said. "I think we shall find a formula for constant communication without any trips and summits."

Exchanges of visits with his Azeri counterpart were not discussed on the agenda.

"We have a common border–on which we could create all the necessary conditions for this," Kocharian said. He avoided more detailed explanations–promising that everything would be announced in the future.

Speaking on the same day at the Carnegie Foundation–Kocharian said that his personal meetings with Aliyev "allowed us to get to know each other better," but contacts even at the highest levels will not produce an immediate " formula for settling" the Karabakh conflict.

The disagreemen’s between the two sides are still huge–said Kocharian adding that he still regarded the latest proposals of the co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group–stipulating that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be settled on the principles of a "common state"–as a basis for negotiations.

"I told Mr. Aliyev and the co-chairmen that this was the limit beyond which we shall not go," Kocharian stressed.

Aliyev said at the Strategic and International Studies Center on Monday that he viewed ideas which contradicted international norms in a negative light–adding that the OSCE proposal was a "veiled independence" for Nagorno-Karabakh.

He said he intended to discuss conflict resolution based on the principles that were put forth during the 1996 Lisbon summit of the OSCE–envisions a heightened status of self-government for Nagorno-Karabakh within the boundaries of Azerbaijan.

Aliyev expressed hope in this connection that the Minsk Group would draw up new proposals acceptable to both sides.

Kocharian announced that an upcoming meeting in May between the defense minister of Georgian–Azerbaijan and Armenia would also include the participation of Karabakh Defense Minister Samvel Babayan.

He expressed encouragement for Aliyev’s agreement on Babayan’s attendance at the meeting.

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