Turkish, Russian Officials to Draw-up Caucasus Pact Blueprint

ANKARA (Today’s Zaman)–Russian and Turkish diplomats will meet this week in order to lay the groundwork for a planned meeting between foreign ministers of the two countries that will focus on Ankara’s proposal for establishing a Turkish-sponsored Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform which will include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia and Turkey under the same roof.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan initiated a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on Friday and the two discussed the proposed platform amidst reports that Turkey will include its neighbor Armenia in regional peace efforts via Russia.

But no concrete proposals have yet been conveyed to Armenia, according to Armenian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Tigran Balayan, who said Monday that no timetable for meetings have been communicated to Armenia.

Babacan conveyed a set of "concrete proposals" to Lavrov during the conversation, Foreign Ministry spokesman Burak ?z?gergin said, without elaborating. Officials from the Turkish and Russian foreign ministries will meet next week to work on the proposals.

Babacan and Lavrov will also meet in early September to review the progress in technical talks. Foreign Ministry officials, approached by Today’s Zaman late last week, were not able to provide information on the venue and exact date of the talks. However, sources involved in the issue said Ambassador ?nal ?evik?z, the deputy undersecretary responsible for the Caucasus and Central Asia affairs, will lead the Foreign Ministry delegation during talks.

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