Sestanovich Says US Will Step Up Karabakh Role

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–President Robert Kocharian met Friday with a delegation led by special advisor to the US Secretary of State on newly independent states–ambassador at large Steven Sestanovich.

The sides exchanged views on regional problems and the current state and possible developmen’s in the Karabakh settlement process. Noting that the United States is interested in the quickest settlement of the Karabakh conflict–Sestanovich expressed readiness to activate the negotiating process.

The two also stressed the importance of regional cooperation and implementation of concrete programs. According to Kocharian–Armenia will welcome any step aimed at strengthening mutual confidence in the region.

Speaking of economic and democratic developmen’s–Kocharian stressed that Armenia embarked on the path of market reforms and consistently implemen’s economic reforms. "There is no alternative in conditions of globalization of economy," he said.

President Kocharian also noted the importance of holding free and fair elections in accordance with requiremen’s of democracy and law. Armenia has chosen the democratic way of development and the authorities will do their best to ensure transparent and lawful elections.

US Ambassador at Large Sestanovich arrived in Armenian on May 20. During meetings with Armenian officials high on the agenda were issues related to the process of settlement of the Karabakh conflict as well as integration processes in the South Caucasus. Also discussed was the process of bilateral relations–in particular–technical assistance and continuation of more general programs.

On May 21 Sestanovich left Yerevan for Baku. According to him–he had very efficient meetings with president Robert Kocharian–prime minister Armen Darbinian–foreign minister Vardan Oskanian–defense minister Vazgen Sargssian–chairman of the Central Electoral Commission Artak Saghradian and leaders of some political parties.

Sestanovich also said that during his visit to the defense ministry the sides discussed a program of cooperation in the area of control of transportation of raw materials used in manufacturing mass destruction weapons proposed by the United States Department of Defense to the Customs Department of Armenia. The parties also discussed Armenia’s more active participation in NATO Partnership for Peace program. "We would like to develop our cooperation in the military sphere. This would meet interests of both countries," Stephen Sestanovich said–adding–however–that "there are some impedimen’s–which we are trying to overcome through combined efforts."

Sestanovich said that the United States is watching the election process in Armenia’since free and fair elections will promote further cooperation and strengthen Armenia’s position in the international community.

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