Sargsyan Meets with World Bank President

WASHINGTON (Itar-Tass)–Armenian Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan met with World Bank President James Wolfensohn Thursday–Sargsyan’s press secretary Tigran Hakopyan told Itar-Tass.

One of the results of their meeting was an agreement to hold–under Wolfensohn’s sponsorship–an economic forum of representatives of the Diaspora in London in May 2000. The forum is expected to discuss not only matters related to the provision of assistance to Armenia but also the development of mutually beneficial business contacts with it.

Friday–the Armenian Prime Minister was scheduled to meet IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus. Despite the difficult economic situation in the country–the programs of cooperation between Yerevan and the Bretton-Wood institutions are being implemented successfully on the whole–Hakopyan said.

At the end of last year–the IMF and the World Bank decided to provide $124 million in fresh loans to Armenia to enable it to carry on macro-economic stabilization and economic restructuring. In December of this year–the Caucasus republic expects to get another installment of the 28-million-dollar World Bank loan.

Hakopyan said Wolfensohn had maintained warm friendly relations with the late head of the Armenian Church–Catholicos of All Armenia’s Karekin I–who died in June of this year. At the end of the 1950s–the two men were students at Oxford.

Wolfensohn has visited Armenia more than once–his last visit was in May.

As reported earlier–Sargsyan had his first meeting with Vice-President Al Gore.

Hakopyan told Itar-Tass that Yerevan attached special significance to the meeting in light of the heightened attention which is being paid by the United States to the situation in the Caucasus–including to the settlement of the conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh. This attention is largely due to the interests of the US business circles in the region.

According to Hakopyan–Gore insistently advised Armenia to sign a framework agreement with Azerbaijan before the OSCE summit in Istanbul in November. He said the move would open up new prospects for economic cooperation.

But Yerevan sticks to "a somewhat different viewpoint" insofar as it believes that economic interaction should not be tied down to political issues–including the conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Armenian prime minister told Gore that in Armenia’s view–the United States has often adhered to "a policy of double standards" in the Caucasus. This was evidenced–for example–in the choice of a route for the transport of Caspian oil.

While calling on other countries to favor a pragmatic approach and uphold the idea of pipeline profitability–Washington at the same time was actively pushing another–much more costly–Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project. The United States appears to be vexed by the idea of building a natural gas pipeline between Armenia and Iran–which Yerevan sees as one of the ways for resolving its own energy problems in conditions of economic blockade imposed by Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Armenia counts on support and mediation efforts on the part of the United States in the settlement of relations with Ankara.

It is noteworthy–however–that–according to the press secretary of the Armenian prime minister–the participants in the meeting expressed mutual consent that it was necessary to take into consideration Russia’s economic interests in the region–including the creation of a common energy space–the building of pipelines–etc.

Sargsyan also had a meeting in the Pentagon with First Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre to discuss cooperation in the military field–primarily within the framework of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. Prior to his appointment as prime minister–Vazgen Sargsyan had headed the Armenian Ministry of Defense.

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