No Deals Announced after Fresh Turkish Armenian Talks

YEREVAN (RFE-RL)–The foreign ministers of Armenia and Turkey announced no further progress towards the normalization of relations between the two neighboring states following fresh talks in New York late on Monday.

A brief statement by the Armenian Foreign Ministry said Vartan Oskanian and his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul–"explored bilateral issues as well as regional concerns" during the meeting held on the sidelines of the ongoing session of the UN General Assembly. There was no word on whether any agreemen’s were reached by them.

Oskanian’s spokesman–Hamlet Gasparian–said that the two men again discussed a possible reopening of the Turkish-Armenian border which Ankara has kept closed since 1993 out of solidarity with Azerbaijan. "The issue of opening borders is always discussed at meetings with Gul," he said.

Gasparian did not give any details of that discussion–referring all inquiries to Oskanian. He also confirmed that the unresolved Mountainous Karabagh conflict was on the agenda of the talks.

It was the fourth meeting between the two foreign ministers since June 2003. Oskanian declared after the previous talks held in Istanbul in June that Turkey is "sincere" in its desire to normalize ties with Armenia.

The Karabagh conflict has until now been the key obstacle to improved Turkish-Armenian relations–with successive Turkish governmen’s refusing to reopen the border before its resolution. One of Oskanian’s deputies–Ruben Shugarian–said earlier this month that Karabagh is no longer the main Turkish precondition for the lifting of Armenia’s blockade.

While in New York–Oskanian also met with US Undersecretary of State Mark Grossman and Steven Mann–Washington’s top Karabagh negotiator. The meetings followed the launch of what appears to be a new Karabagh peace initiative by the US–Russian–and French mediators.

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