Powell Expresses Confidence in OSCE Minsk Group’s Meditating Role

Washington–DC (RFE/RL)–U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell shared his ideas on a wide range of foreign policy issues to members of Congress on May 15. The topics during a hearing before a Senate panel ranged from Yugoslavia to Russia–Nagorno-Karabakh–and the Middle East.

Powell commented on the US commitment to resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. He deflected criticism of the OSCE Minsk Group – Russia, France–and the U.S. – which is working to help the parties resolve their dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)–the chairman of the panel–said he did not believe Russia was interested in resolving the problem. McConnell added that the French "are rarely helpful on anything."

The U.S. secretary of state took issue with McConnell’s characterization. He said all three members of the Minsk Group are committed to a fair resolution. According to Powell–the unexpected progress made last month in negotiations held in Key West was attributable to the encouragement of Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Jacques Chirac.

Powell added that he hopes Armenian President Robert Kocharian and Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev will be able to go ahead with more face-to-face negotiations scheduled for an unspecified date next month in Switzerland.

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