US Karabagh Envoy Again in Yerevan

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–US chief negotiator on Mountainous Karabagh paid a low-key visit to Yerevan on Thursday to focus on international efforts to resolve the conflict.

Steven Mann was recently appointed the US co-chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group tasked with finding a resolution to the Karabagh conflict.

Mann held separate meetings with President Robert Kocharian and Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian for the second time in six weeks. No details of the talks were made public–with the Mann declining to comment on the purpose of his trip and the current status of the peace process. "I am just having talks with the Armenian government," he said–without elaborating.

A brief statement by Kocharian’s office said Mann discussed the Karabagh conflict and informed the president about his talks with Azeri leaders in Baku on Wednesday.

Mann’s previous trip to Yerevan was followed by a meeting in Poland between Kocharian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and his Azeri counterpart Elmar Mamedyarov met in Strasbourg two weeks later–emerging from it with cautiously optimistic statemen’s. The Armenian Foreign Ministry said the two ministers will meet again in Prague on June 21–adding that Oskanian and the US mediator spoke about details of that meeting.

Speaking at Yerevan State University earlier on Thursday–Oskanian said that the negotiation process is "not on a bad track" at the moment and is "following in the footsteps of previous talks."I think that in the next two months we will have more clarity as to whether we can build on the base that has been created during all these years?or Azerbaijan wants to divert that process to another direction," he said–reiterating Yerevan’s hopes of reviving peace accords reached by the parties three years ago.

Oskanian repeated the Armenian side’s insistence on a single "package" accord that would resolve all contentious issues. He added that it will agree to a phased settlement only if the majority of Armenia’s want so. "If there is really a public consensus that we should go for a phased solution–then we will have no problem," he said. "But to be honest–I don’t see popular demand for a phased solution."

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