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Reuters
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe sent a special envoy to Armenia on Sunday in a bid to end the country's worst unrest in a decade.

"I have sent my special envoy to try to bring both sides to the negotiating table and to find a way out of this crisis through political dialogue," the OSCE chairman-in-office, Finnish Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva, said in a statement.

The envoy, 68-year old diplomat Heikki Talvitie, is scheduled to arrive in Yerevan on Sunday.

Eight people were killed and 33 police injured in Armenia's capital during overnight protests as demonstrators took to the streets saying the February 19 presidential vote was rigged. The protests ended after the government declared a state of emergency and mobilized the army.

OSCE chairman Kanerva condemned the use of force against demonstrators and called for restraint. "I urge the authorities to release those detained, and I again call on the government and the opposition to engage in dialogue", he said. "Everything should be done to avoid further casualties and any further escalation of tension."

Talvitie intends to meet outgoing President Robert Kocharian, outgoing Prime Minister and president-elect Serzh Sarkisian, Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and opposition leader
Levon Ter-Petrosian. Ter-Petrosian, who says he was cheated during last month's vote, is under house arrest.

Talvitie worked as the European Union's Special Representative for the South Caucasus from 2003 to 2006.

In a related development, a top Vatican envoy has postponed a visit to Armenia because of the unrest in Yerevan, the Vatican said on Sunday. Secretary of State Cardinal Taarcisio Bertone, who ranks only second to the pope in the Vatican hierarchy, had been due to leave later on Sunday and stay until March 6.

A Vatican statement said the trip was not cancelled and could take place later. The second leg of Bertone's trip, to Azerbaijan from March 6-9, would go ahead as scheduled.

(Photolur photo)
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