By Ruzanna Stepanian
France’s chief Nagorno-Karabakh negotiator met with President Robert Kocharian in Yerevan on Wednesday to discuss preparations for next week’s new round of Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks.
Bernard Fassier, the French co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, was due to proceed to Baku later in the day. He made no statements to media after the meeting with Kocharian. Kocharian’s office also did not report any details.
Officials said only that the talks focused on preparations for the March 14 meeting in Geneva of Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov. The two ministers, who last met in late January in Moscow, will again try to eliminate the remaining disagreements over peace proposals put forward by the Minsk Group’s French, Russian and U.S. co-chairs.
According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Vladimir Karapetian, Fassier also discussed the Geneva meeting with Oskanian on an overnight flight to Yerevan from Paris. “Since the minister was flying back to Yerevan on the same plane with Bernard Fassier, they had a chance to speak about topics of interest to them for several hours,” Karapetian told RFE/RL.
Oskanian was returning home from a working trip to Washington where he met U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Minsk Group’s U.S. co-chair, Matthew Bryza. Bryza said last month that the conflicting parties are “very close” finalizing a framework peace accord later this year.