Armenian President to Visit Turkey Next Year

ISTANBUL–Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian has accepted an invitation from his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul to visit the country next year, the Armenian foreign minister said Monday, news agencies reported.

"The Armenian president will be in Istanbul in October 2009," Armenian foreign minister Eduard Nalbandian told journalists in Istanbul, where he presided over a meeting of foreign ministers of Black Sea Economic Cooperation member states. Armenia currently chairs the regional organization.

Nalbandian arrived in Istanbul on Monday where he urged Turkey to reopen their countries’ common border under blockade since 1993, saying there were no real obstacles to improving relations.

He planned to meet his Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan during his trip for talks aimed at normalizing relations between the two countries. The two were scheduled to meet Monday evening.

Speaking to Turkey’s English-language Hurriyet Daily News before his visit, Nalbandian said he hoped that Turkey and Armenia would establish normal diplomatic relations and that the border between the two nations be re-opened.

“Armenia is ready to normalize our bilateral relations without any precondition and we are expecting the same from Turkey,” Nalbandian told Huriyet.

He reiterated that point Monday, adding that he believed “re-opening the border is also among Turkey’s priorities; it is important for both countries’ interests.”

In September, the Turkish and Armenian presidents met in Yerevan, and watched a soccer match between the national teams. The Turkish government called the meeting between two heads of states, which have no diplomatic relations, "historic".

Armenia has said it is ready to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey without additional conditions.

Meanwhile, Hurriyet reported on Monday that Turkey intends to send an ambassador-at-large to Armenia without opening a diplomatic mission, if Armenia agrees to create a commission to investigate the 1915 events.

Such a move would mean a de facto establishment of diplomatic relations, according to the report.

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