Gore Affirms US Committment to Karabakh Peace

WASHINGTON-Vice-President Al Gore reaffirmed US commitment to the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process–after a one hour-long meeting Monday with President Robert Kocharian at the State Department.

In his remarks at a dinner reception hosted for Kocharian–Gore praised Kocharian for his leadership in overcoming political obstacles following the October 27 parliament shootings and pledged continued US support for progress in Armenia.

The dinner–which was attended by more the 80 community leaders and political officials–was hosted by the Vice-President following his meeting with Kocharian.

Gore continued his remarks by also reaffirming the United States’ commitment to peace in the Caucasus and pledging a more active role in the resolution of the Karabakh conflict. In that regard–Gore also praised the initiative of direct dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan to resolve the conflict–and offered to mediate the resumption of talks between the two countries.

Gore began his toast by welcoming the guests in Armenian.

"Bari Kaloust–Did I say that OK? Welcome," said the Vice-President–adding "It is an honor and privilege to host you–Mr. President–for this evening."

"Mr. president during your 2 years in office–you have distinguished yourself as a gifted statesman–a committed democrat–and a strong advocate for the Armenian people. You have shown true leadership in guiding your county through difficult times–including the tragic assassinations last fall. You have set Armenia on the task towards democracy and free markets. You have also demonstrated true statesmanship in reaching out to the people of Azerbaijan last year in hopes of settling the dispute in Karabakh," said Gore.

"Throughout Armenia’s history–your people have had to overcome great obstacles and great injustices to preserve your identity and win your independence. No greater injustice threatens your survival than the horrible and brutal massacres during the final years of the Ottoman empire–directed against your people–when over one million innocent Arms were slain. America joins you in remembering the loss of so many innocent lives," added Gore–who–once again–neglected to call the events of 1915 a "Genocide." Gore also pledged to personally support the resolution of the Karabakh conflict adding that he "will continue to urge Turkish and Azerbaijani officials at the highest levels to intensify their involvement in the peace process."

Borrowing a page from history–Gore referred to President Woodrow Wilson’s commitment to protecting Armenia’s interests."Following the first World War–President Woodrow Wilson called upon the American people–and I quote–’to fearlessly undertake the duties of guidance and assistance in making the cause of Armenia their own’ since that time we have sought to answer this cause," said Gore–citing the creation of Near East Relief in the 1920’s to US assistance during the earthquake in 1988. However–Gore did not fully appreciate the scope of President Wilson’s commitment to Armenia and the vision he had in the creation of a united Armenia.

In discussing proactive steps toward strengthening US-Armenia relations–Gore cited the creation of the US-Armenia Task Force–which was established during a visit last year by late prime minister Vazgen Sargsyan. "I proposed that this task force be established after my meeting with the late Armenian Prime Minister Sargsyan last year and at my urging the Secretary of State convened it for the first time in May," announced Gore–pledging to personally monitor the task force’s progress. "In addition–as a concrete manifestation of America’s confidence in Armenia’s future–I am pleased to announce that the US intends to purchase a site for our new embassy in Yerevan this year," announced Gore.

In response–Kocharian thanked the United States for continuing its support toward Armenia–and reiterated the Kocharian administration’s conviction that the political crisis in Armenia is over.

Regarding the Karabakh conflict–Kocharian pledged his commitment to establishing peace in the region and added that by working together with the United States–peace will be achieved in Armenia and "South Caucasus will become a true crossroads of civilization."

Kocharian was scheduled to meet with President Bill Clinton Tuesday and later attend a reception in his honor hosted by the Armenian National Committee of America at the residence of Mr. & Mrs. Dertad and Seta Manguikian.

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