By Armen ZakarianA prominent Armenian opposition figure has held a series of meetings with U.S. Department of State and White House officials over the past week in what is seen as a bid to win U.S. support in the domestic political struggle.
Hanrapetutyun leader Aram Sarkisian has been in the United States for
about a week at the invitation of the traditional Armenian Hunchak party, first visiting Washington D.C. and then traveling to Los Angeles, California, which is home to a large Armenian community.
Sarkisian's stay in Washington coincided with a working visit by Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian to the U.S. capital. But in a phone conversation with RFE/RL on June 13, Sarkisian said that he didn't meet Oskanian in Washington even though they stayed in the same hotel.
Sarkisian, the brother of Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian who was killed in the attack on the Armenian parliament chamber on October 27, 1999, is believed to be in the U.S. to try to enlist the support of the U.S. leadership and the diaspora for his push to achieve a power change in Armenia
He told RFE/RL that he had meetings with senior political members of the U.S. Department of State and the White House, but added that he could not disclose details because of what he called confidentiality.
"We mainly discussed issues related to the future of Armenia and my approaches to this future both in terms of foreign and domestic policies," Sarkisian told RFE/RL without elaborating. "I think the time to say more will come after completing the work."
But he mentioned that during his official meetings they also discussed issues related to the Karabakh settlement and Armenian-Turkish relations.
Besides official meetings, Sarkisian also met with representatives of the local Armenian community. He stated at a public meeting in Glendale, California: "Armenians, I have come to take you home." According to Sarkisian himself, there were many who said they wanted to go back to Armenia.
While in the U.S. Sarkisian also met with Armenian Assembly of America officials to discuss what he called "very serious problems".
Grigor Khotanian of the Hunchak party, who is one of the organizers of Aram Sarkisian's visit to the U.S., said they invited the Hanrapetutyun party's representative because "we are members of the same Ardarutyun bloc and Aram Sarkisian is our ally."
He said that in Washington Sarkisian held a meeting with the National Security Council Caucasus Director. Speaking about this meeting Aram Sarkisian said he was impressed by this U.S. official and his knowledge of Armenia.
"The U.S. is a country that has its own interests in the region and
considers these interests to be strategic. The U.S. wants to have friendly, allied relations with Armenia and also be a strategic partner," Sarkisian told RFE/RL.
Meanwhile, People's Party of Armenia (HZhK) representatives told "Haykakan Zhamanak" last week that the party's leader Stepan Demirchian, the son of assassinated Parliament Speaker Karen Demirchian, will leave for the United States in mid-September at the invitation of the U.S. Department of State.