Karabakh on Agenda of Kocharian Clinton Meeting

WASHINGTON (Reuters)–President Bill Clinton will meet Armenian President Robert Kocharian in Washington on June 27 to discuss peace efforts in Nagorno-Karabakh and revive the former Soviet state’s economy–the White House said on Friday.

Spokesman Joe Lockhart said Clinton would reiterate US support for the peace process in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

“The two presidents will discuss regional issues–including the support of the United States for the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process and the restoration of economic ties among the countries of the Caucasus,” Lockhart said.

Armenia hopes US membership of the OSCE’s Minsk Group on Nagorno-Karabakh and Clinton’s summit with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow will have helped to resolve the dispute–which is holding back attempts to build up its devastated economy.

The United States and Russia have shown increased interest in the central Asian region in recent months–with both Putin and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visiting the area. Albright promoted democracy and human rights.

Both countries have an interest in the oil and gas being produced in the Caspian Sea basin and in the pipelines being planned and built across the region.

Russia is concerned about the spread of violence by Islamic extremists–drug smugglers and ultra-nationalists in the region–including in its own territory of Chechnya.

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