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Iran’s Ahmadinejad In Phone Talks With Armenian, Azeri Leaders


Iran -- President Mahmud Ahmadinejad waves to foreigners who are invited for attending late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's death anniversary ceremony, during a meeting in Tehran, 02Jun2011

Iran -- President Mahmud Ahmadinejad waves to foreigners who are invited for attending late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's death anniversary ceremony, during a meeting in Tehran, 02Jun2011

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad telephoned his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts on Sunday ahead of their crunch negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.


According to President Serzh Sarkisian’s office, the Armenian and Iranian leaders discussed ways of “developing bilateral relations and stepping up cooperation in a number of areas of mutual interest.”

They also spoke about “regional developments and partnership,” the office said in a statement. “The telephone conversation took place at the initiative of the Iranian side,” it added.

Official Baku also gave few details of Ahmadinejad’s phone call with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev. Aliyev’s press service said only that they discussed Azerbaijani-Iranian relations, regional security and “the fight against terrorism.”

The phone calls came two weeks after a last-minute cancellation of Ahmadinejad’s visit to Yerevan. A spokesman for the Iranian president said that the Armenian side “did not prepare documents” that were due to be signed in Yerevan on June 6.

Iran -- President Mahmud Ahmadinejad (R) meets with his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian in Tehran, 27Mar2011

Sarkisian’s office did not confirm that. It said vaguely that the trip was postponed by “mutual consent” and will take place “at a more convenient time.”

Some Armenian analysts attributed the postponement to Iran’s alleged unease over a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict desired by the West and Russia. They pointed to Iranian concerns about the composition of an international peacekeeping force that would have to be deployed around Karabakh in case of the conflict’s resolution.

Iranian diplomats have warned on a number of occasions that Tehran would not tolerate any U.S. participation in that force. Seyed Ali Saghaeyan, the Iranian ambassador to Armenia, claimed last year that Washington is keen to have troops in Azerbaijan’s Fizuli district bordering Iran. The area was mostly occupied by Karabakh Armenian forces in 1993.

Ahmadinejad’s phone calls were followed by an official announcement in Yerevan that Sarkisian and Aliyev will hold their next, potentially decisive trilateral meeting with Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday. The summit will take place in Kazan, the capital of Russia’s Republic of Tatarstan.

In a joint statement late last month, Medvedev and Presidents Barack Obama of the United States and Nicolas Sarkozy of France urged Aliyev and Sarkisian to accept the basic principles of a Karabakh settlement proposed by the three mediating powers. They warned that failure to do so would call into question Yerevan’s and Baku’s commitment to peace.
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