Nalbandian, Rice Discuss Karabakh, Turkey-Armenia Ties

Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian on a visit to Washington meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

WASHIMGTON (Combined Sources)–Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, on a visit to Washington, met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Monday and discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict peace process, as well as efforts to establish relations with Turkey.

According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Nalbandian assured Rice that Armenia remains committed to deepening its “multi-faceted relations” with the United States and “highly appreciated” U.S. economic assistance to his country, which has totaled about $2 billion since its independence.

A ministry statement said Nalbandian also discussed with Rice the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Armenia’s strained relations with Turkey, a key U.S. ally. The U.S. has long been spearheading international efforts to broker a solution to the Karabakh dispute together with France and Russia.

In discussing the latest developmen’s in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution, both leaders agreed that the conflict can be resolved only through peace negotiations and within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group. The two sides also applauded the efforts of the Minsk Group co-chairmen and stressed the importance of continuing the talks based on the so-called Madrid principles.

While discussing prospects for normalizing relation between Armenia and Turkey, Nalbandian reaffirmed Armenia’s willingness to establish diplomatic relations without preconditions and outlined the steps taken by Armenia.

The two also discussed the process of the ambassadorial confirmation. Nalbandian expressed hope that the Ambassador would soon be confirmed, which will have a positive influence on the further reinforcement of bilateral relations.

Following the meeting Rice and Nalbandian signed the “Joint Action Plan between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Armenia on Combating Smuggling of Nuclear and Radioactive Materials.”

This political agreement expresses the intention of the two governmen’s to cooperate to increase the capabilities of the Republic of Armenia to prevent, detect, and respond effectively to attempts to smuggle nuclear or radioactive materials. It specifies twenty-eight agreed steps that the two governmen’s intend to be taken for this purpose.

With this agreement, the U.S. and Armenian governmen’s are significantly enhancing their collaborative efforts to combat the threat that nuclear or highly radioactive materials could be acquired by terrorists or others who would use them to harm us.

While in Washington, Nalbandian also held talks with James Jeffrey, President George W. Bush’s deputy national security adviser, Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and John Danilovich, executive director of the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation.

During the meeting with Jeffrey, the sides discussed Armenia-US partnership in security, the level of Armenia-NATO cooperation and referred to issues on ensuring security in the region.

Nalbandian and Jeffrey also discussed the Karabakh peace process and Armenia-Turkey relations.

Nalbandian also visited Congress where he met with House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.)

The foreign minister praised the role Congress has played in developing US-Armenia relations and commended the attention demonstrated by the House and the Senate on Armenian-related issues.

Nalbandian briefed Berman on the Karabakh conflict peace process, Turkey-Armenia relations and Armenia’s approached toward regional and international issues.

Berman emphasized the importance his committee placed on strengthening US-Armenia relations.

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