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June 18, 2004




Rumors of Settlement: US Ambassador denies reports of Karabakh proposal


The United States Ambassador to Armenia John Ordway officially refuted reports that the US Co-Chair of the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group had put forward a new plan for settlement of the Karabakh conflict.

During a meeting with Armenian journalists Thursday the US Ambassador said the OSCE co-chairs have not made any specific proposals in the most recent round table discussions.

Some media outlets have claimed that during his visit to Yerevan early in June, US envoy Steven Mann discussed a peace plan with President Robert Kocharyan concerning the Karabakh settlement. The plan reportedly called for the liberation of three of the seven Azerbaijani regions occupied by Armenia before launching negotiations over the status of Karabakh and lifting the blockade against Armenia. Mann has not commented to journalists.

“Normally it’s not my responsibility to comment on the work of the co-chairs,” the Ambassador said. “So I think that’s the best answer I can provide and still not start going into the details of the negotiations which is not appropriate for me.”

Ordway expressed his concern over a recent firefight on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border in which an Armenian army officer was shot dead in the Tavush region of Armenia. Both sides accuse the other of instigating the shooting.

The ambassador said he did not know the details about a meeting earlier this week in Washington between Minister of Foreign Affairs Vardan Oskanian and US Secretary of State Colin Powell, during which the Karabakh conflict settlement was discussed.

Instead the ambassador expressed hope that progress would be reached in the negotiations during the round table discussion between Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers in Prague next Monday. “We think both sides are resolute for the peaceful settlement of the conflict and we are ready to support it,” Ordway said, adding that the US is for any format which is durable and acceptable for both sides and internationally recognizable.

Meanwhile the Azeri President Ilham Aliev announced early this week that he hopes the conflict would be resolved peacefully in coming years, indicating however that “Azerbaijani people will undoubtedly reclaim the occupied territories.”

A Baku newspaper reports that during the meeting in Prague official Baku will put forward a proposal on signing a final agreement on the “return of seven districts”. Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Eldar Mammadyarov said he had not heard of any proposal by Mann.

“Even if it is true the Azerbaijani side has expressed its position and will make proposals not on three but on seven districts,” Mammadyarov said.


According to Agnes
 

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