Armenian Prime Minister Meets with US Secretary of State

WASHINGTON (RFE/RL)–Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan wrapped up a five-day visit to Washington late Tuesday with talks with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The U.S. State Department and the Armenian government issued no statemen’s on the agenda and other details of the meeting as of Wednesday evening.

“The United States and Armenia, of course, have good relations,” Rice was reported to tell journalists just before the talks. “We are working on a number of issues. We were very pleased to see that the visit of [Turkish] President Gul to Armenia went very well, and look forward to continuing to work on issues of common interest.”

Rice also said she and Sargsyan will “certainly” discuss international efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict which the United States hopes will produce a breakthrough before the end of this year.

While in Washington, the Armenian premier also attended annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and met high-ranking officials from both lending institutions.

The Karabakh conflict and the recent thaw in Turkish-Armenian relations were on the agenda of Sargsyan’s meeting on Friday with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. The two men also discussed U.S.-Armenian relations and Sargsyan’s ambitious reform agenda. U.S. officials have praised his stated efforts to combat corruption, ensure equal government treatment of all businesses and reform Armenia’s tax and customs services.

During his meeting with Cheney, Sargsyan, condemned as "dangerous" arecent statemen’s by US Deputy Secretary of State Matthew Bryza linking a normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations to a resolution of the Karabakh conflict that would see a reinstatement of Azeri rule over Armenian Karabakh, effectively wrenching 17 years of democratic statehood and independence away from its indigenous Armenian population.

He denounced as “dangerous” Bryza’s reported remark last week that the conflict should be resolved on the basis on Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.

Bryza’s commen’s follow a series of statemen’s, over the past several weeks, in which he has demonstrated a pro-Azerbaijani bias by prioritizing the misapplication of the principle of territorial integrity to the Nagorno Karabakh issue over the basic right of all peoples to self-determination.

In an October 9th interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation Russian language service, Bryza, who serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and also the State Department’s representative to the OSCE Minsk Group talks, stated that Armenia must agree that Nagorno Karabakh is legally part of Azerbaijan.

On Sunday, Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Chairman Ken Hachikian publicly and forcefully challenged Bryza’s statement that, as a precondition for peace, Armenia must agree that Nagorno Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan.

Speaking before a capacity crowd of more than a thousand elected officials and community leaders during the ANC-WR annual banquet at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Hachikian sharply condemned the "retreat from principle" in U.S. policy “toward the people and republic of Nagorno-Karabakh–who have strived, at the brutal cost of a generation of its best sons and daughters–to live up to the fundamentally American ideal that all people deserve to live free of foreign tyranny, under a government of their own choosing."

“Just this past week, we saw a senior State Department official, Matt Bryza, moving farther from even the pretense of supporting democracy, by saying that Armenia must accept the false proposition that Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan,” he said. “He’s absolutely wrong. And we all know it–and so does Baku and Ankara."

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