Iran Ready to Facilitate Karabakh Settlement

YEREVAN (Interfax)–Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi upon his arrival in Yerevan on Monday that Iran is ready to facilitate the Armenian-Azerbaijani summit dialogue to reach a settlement on the Karabakh conflict.

He told Interfax that during his talks with his Armenian counterpart Vardan Oskanian–he discussed various problems–including Karabakh and means of putting an end to this confrontation. He said the sides had revealed that progress is being made in settling many aspects of this problem.

He said that the goal of his first official visit to Armenia is to broaden bilateral and regional cooperation–noting that Armenia and Iran have a large potential for further developing bilateral relations for the benefit of peace and cooperation in the region. Broader relations between Armenia and Iran may have a positive impact on the future of the entire region commented Kharazi.

He stated that his talks with Armenian President Robert Kocharian and with the Armenian foreign ministry demonstrated Armenia’s political will to broaden such cooperation.

Oskanian told Interfax that it was a regular visit by a top-level Iranian official within the context of the Armenian-Iranian dialogue–during which economic and political relations–and regional issues were discussed. Kharazi was also informed about the latest developmen’s in the Karabakh issue.

Asked whether Iranian mediation was possible in the Karabakh settlement–Oskanian said that although the Karabakh-related problems are being tackled by the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe–Iran is a neighboring state and is located in the direct vicinity of the conflict zones–all of which arouses its deep concern.

"As Iran has normal relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan–Iran’s efforts may be used in establishing an Armenian-Azerbaijani dialogue. But the mediatory mission is being performed only by the Minsk Group," said Oskanian.

He said relations between Iran and Armenia have been stable and have never been frozen since Armenia became independent.

He said that the talks had also dealt with the construction of a pipeline linking Iran and Armenia.

The main problem is financial–he said–adding that this problem and the establishment of a consortium to finance the project were discussed with the Iranian foreign minister.

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