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By Emil Danielyan

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Lynn Pascoe met with Armenian leaders in Yerevan on Monday before opening an annual meeting of US ambassadors to the three south Caucasian states.

Pascoe discussed with President Robert Kocharian “a broad range of issues” related to US-Armenian relations and the situation in the region, the presidential office said without giving details. He also met separately with Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian.

According to the Armenian foreign ministry, the US military action in Afghanistan and the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict were also on the agenda. The two men specifically talked about the upcoming visit to the region by the American, French and Russians co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group on Karabakh, Oskanian’s press office said.

Pascoe used to be Washington’s chief negotiator in the group.

The spokesman for the US embassy in Armenia, John Balian, told RFE/RL that the main purpose of his visit to Yerevan is to attend the two-day ambassadorial meeting which got underway later on Monday.

The American envoys in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia meet once a year to review US policy on the South Caucasus. Their previous Yerevan gathering, held in March 1999, focused on ways of promoting economic cooperation and integration among the three impoverished countries.

Balian denied any link between the trip and last week’s meeting in the White House between top US officials and leaders of the influential Armenian community in the United States. Pascoe and other officials, including two senior aides to President George W. Bush, briefed Armenian-American leaders on Washington’s policy on the region and Armenia in particular.

One of the participants representing the Armenian Assembly of America, John Jamian, has described the meeting as “very important” and praised the Bush administration for “maintaining dialogue with the community.”
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