Clinton, Mammadyarov Discuss Energy Security, Greater US Role in Karabakh Talks

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WASHINGTON (Combined Sources)–US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met separately Tuesday with her counterparts from Armenia and Azerbaijan for talks on energy security and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, AFP reported.

Clinton met with Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edouard Nalbandian early Tuesday, and held talks later in the day with Azerbaijan’s lead diplomat Elmar Mammadiarov.

“Azerbaijan has a very strategic location, one that is important not only to their country, but really, regionally and globally,” Clinton said as she greeted Mammadiarov at the State Department. “And so they’re in a position to take increasing responsibility and leadership on these important matters.”

Speaking to reporters following the talks, Mammadyarov said the Nagorno Karabakh conflict was the main topic of his meeting with Clinton. “The Secretary of State said that they would work on the problem more seriously to reach progress soon,” he said.

The two diplomats did not, however, discuss Nagorno Karabakh as a possible point or condition in the roadmap between Turkey and Armenia, Mammadyarov said, adding that journalists should ask Turkish diplomats for clarification on the issue.

Mammadyarov said that Clinton “univocally stated that the Obama administration is very interested in the serious progress” of the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks. He added that Clinton also “univocally supported” the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

On energy issues, Mammadyarov said he and Clinton underscored the importance of securing the region’s natural gas and oil supplies. In that regard, he continued, Tuesday’s attempted military mutiny at a Georgian base near Tbilisi was an issue that also concerned the Secretary of State.

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev are to hold fresh talks at a European summit this week in Prague, where the launch of an Eastern Partnership project aimed to boost European Union ties with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

Washington has expressed hopes that recent moves to normalize relations between Armenia and Turkey will help speed up the Karabakh peace process.

Armenia and Turkey last month announced a “roadmap” for talks that could lead to normalizing ties and the opening of their border. Turkey has refused to establish diplomatic links with Armenia over its efforts to gain international recognition of the Armenian Genocide committed by the Ottoman Turks.

Azerbaijan has urged Turkey not to move forward in talks with Armenia unless Yerevan agrees to a Karabakh resolution that favors Baku.

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