ARF’s Mkrtchian Addresses Khatami Visit

YEREVAN (Combined sources)–ARF leader Levon Mkrtchian said during a press conference on Thursday that ARF representatives and Iran’s president Mohammad Khatami touched on the Mountainous Karabagh conflict during their meeting earlier in the day.

Mkrtchian addressed Iran’s support of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity saying that the ARF understands that no nation can oppose–in the international arena–the territorial integrity of another–"but there is also the right to self-determination," he added. "Thanks to that right–the Mountainous Karabagh Republic is an independent country today–and has never been a part of independent Azerbaijan."

He explained that Iran is consistent in its readiness to serve as an impartial mediator. "We have always seen this," he added.

Speaking of economic projects–including the gas pipeline that will link the two neighboring countries–Mkrtchian stressed the project serves both Armenia’s political and economic interest. "Iran–however–has its interests too," he added.

Khatami and his Armenian counterpart Robert Kocharian signed on Wednesday a framework treaty on the "principles and bases" of bilateral relations. They also formalized the release of a $30 million Iran loan to Yerevan to be used for the construction of a gas pipeline that will link the two neighboring countries.

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