Yeltsin Backs Kocharian After Killings

MOSCOW (Reuters)–Russian President Boris Yeltsin met the president of Armenia on Friday and expressed his support for the country’s leader after the recent slaying of several top officials–including the prime minister.

A Kremlin spokeswoman’said Yeltsin and Armenian President Robert Kocharian also touched on the problem of the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

"(Yeltsin) expressed his support for the efforts of Robert Kocharian and the whole leadership of Armenia to overcome the effects of the recent tragic events in Yerevan," the spokeswoman’said.

Gunmen burst into Armenia’s parliament on October 27–spraying the chamber with bullets. Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan–parliament speaker Karen Demirchian and six other leading officials and deputies were killed.

Kocharian this week appointed Aram Sargsyan–the slain premier’s brother–as the new prime minister.

During their meeting at one of Yeltsin’s Moscow residences–the Russian president and Kocharian discussed bilateral relations–which have been generally good since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991–as well as Nagorno-Karabakh.

Yeltsin expressed his appreciation of Kocharian’s efforts to end the dispute in the region–over which Armenian separatists fought a war with Azeri government forces until a 1994 truce.

Kocharian and Azeri President Haydar Aliyev have recently held a series of face-to-face meetings to try and resolve the dispute and political commentators have said the two men have never been closer to settling it.

The Armenian delegation led by president Kocharian left for Moscow on November 5. The delegation includes Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian–Defense Minister Vagharshak Haroutiunian and other officials.

In the Russian capital Kocharian is scheduled to meet with his Russian counterpart Boris Yeltsin–Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. Discussions are expected to focus on prospects of expanding relations and the Karabakh settlement.

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