Armenian Foreign Minister Meets With UN Secretary General

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian held a meeting October 1 with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

The two discussed numerous issues of regional importance. The UN Secretary General showed interest in the latest developmen’s in the Karabakh settlement. Presenting the current stage of the negotiating process–the Armenian foreign minister informed Annan of Armenia’s approaches to the settlement of the problem and pointed out that active negotiations between the conflicting parties provided good prerequisites for progress.

Later that day the Armenian foreign minister signed the Statute of the International Criminal Court. Armenia is the 88th country to sign this Statute.

The Statute of the International Criminal Court was adopted on July 17 at the constituent assembly of the Court in Rome. The Statute will come into force provided that it is ratified by at least 60 states.

A relationship on an equal footing between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan should be one of the principles which international mediators are trying to negotiate as a framework to solve the Karabakh conflict–a spokesman for Armenia’s foreign ministry said on Friday–reported Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

"The final status [of Karabakh] should probably be determined in the course of negotiations. But there are things that should be made clear now. One of them is that Karabakh cannot be subordinated to Azerbaijan," spokesman Ara Papian told a news briefing.

The United States–which together with Russia and France co-chairs the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe–has urged the parties to resume negotiations and agree on those principles before the OSCE’s Istanbul summit in late November. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright discussed the issue in New York on Wednesday with Foreign Ministers Vartan Oskanian of Armenia and Tofiq Zulfugarov of Azerbaijan.

Reuters quoted an unnamed senior US official as welcoming "a more significant–more intense [diplomatic] pace than had been there before." The foreign ministry’s Papian said no date has yet been set for the resumption of the face-to-face talks under the Minsk Group’s auspices which have not been held fore more than two years.

He said the main points of the Group’s most recent peace plan–accepted by Armenia and Karabakh but rejected by Azerbaijan–remain in force. The plan is based on the idea of a "common state" which would reportedly uphold Karabakh’s existing de-facto independence–while placing the disputed region and Azerbaijan under a loose state umbrella.

Naira Melkumian–foreign minister of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic said recently that the plan would allow Karabakh to maintain its battle-hardened army and an overland link with Armenia. "The encouraging thing is that Azerbaijan has admitted since last April that the issue can be settled with mutual concessions. It remains to clarify what the parties mean by those concessions," the foreign ministry spokesman’said.

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