New US Karabagh Envoy Visits Armenia

YEREVAN (Armenpress/RFE/RL)–Ambassador Steven Mann–the newly appointed chief US negotiator on Mountainous Karabagh did not reveal details of his talks with President Robert Kocharian and other senior officials in Yerevan on Monday.

Mann–who is on his first visit to the region in his current capacity as US co-chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group–said he had a "very useful and warm meeting" with Kocharian but refused to disclose details. "I want to preserve the confidentiality of our diplomatic dialogue," he told reporters.

He was scheduled to meet with Ashot Ghulian–the foreign minister of the Mountainous Karabagh Republic–later in the day.

The US envoy arrived in the Armenian capital three days after a meeting in Prague between Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and his new Azeri counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov. The talks were mediated by the US–Russian–and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.

Speaking at a news conference in Yerevan–Oskanian said he and Mammadyarov spent most of their time in Prague familiarizing with one another and did not discuss any peace proposals in detail. He added that they reached a tentative agreement to meet again next month.

Oskanian and Mann also met in Yerevan on Monday to discuss approaches to conflict resolution–and explore means to strengthening the peace talks. Deputy foreign minister of Armenia Tatul Margarian and US ambassador to Armenia John Ordway participated in the discussions.

Mann also met with Defense Minister Serge Sarkisian who was quoted as saying that Armenia promotes a peaceful resolution of the conflict–and stressed the Minsk Group’s essential role in the process of regulating the conflict.

Before assuming his current position–Mann for years served as a special US representative to the Caspian Sea region–focusing on the development of its oil and natural reserves by Western multinational companies. He admitted that that his "familiarity with the region" played a major role in his appointment.

"It has been 25 years that in one way or another I have been working professionally with the Caucasus region and the former Soviet Union," he said.

In January 1992–Mann opened the US Embassy in Yerevan and served as the US charge d’affaires to Armenia. He served as US ambassador to Turkmen’stan from 1998-2001. A career diplomat–Mann has also held posts in Moscow–Jamaica–Sri Lanka–and Mongolia.

Mann said that he will head to Tbilisi on Tuesday "for consultations with the Georgian government" before proceeding to Baku later this week. He did not specify the subject of those consultations.

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