By Aza Babayan in Moscow
Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian ended on Friday a two-day visit to Moscow which officials said focused on Russian-Armenian energy cooperation and international efforts to salvage the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.
Oskanian and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov declined to divulge details of their discussions on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, saying only that its resolution is still possible in the near future. Yuri Merzlyakov, the Russian co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group who met Oskanian separately on Thursday, was also present at the talks.
“There are new proposals by the co-chairs which are now being considered by the parties,” Lavrov told reporters after a breakfast meeting with the visiting Armenian official. He did not disclose the content of those proposals.
Speaking to RFE/RL later in the day, Oskanian said the Russian, French and U.S. mediators have only come up with “some new ideas” following the failure of the recent Armenian-Azerbaijani summit in France. “I can’t say yet that they are proposals by the co-chairs, but they are being discussed,” he said. “I think that in the coming weeks it will be clearer whether the new ideas can develop into new proposals that will spur the process.”
Oskanian’s talks in Moscow coincided with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov’s visit to Washington. RFE/RL learned on Thursday that Mammadyarov discussed, among other things, preparations for Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev’s upcoming trip to the U.S. capital. Aliev is expected to be received by President George W. Bush at the White House later this month.
Oskanian said on Thursday that no such invitation has been extended to President Robert Kocharian. He implied that the Bush administration has no Karabakh-related disagreements with Yerevan and will instead press Aliev to agree to the most recent Minsk Group plan on Karabakh. The plan reportedly calls for an internationally supervised referendum of independence in Karabakh.
The settlement of Armenia’s gas dispute with Russia was also on the agenda of Oskanian’s talks with Lavrov. “The issue was settled to mutual satisfaction in a way which will not hurt consumers,” Lavrov said.
The two ministers said they also discussed other issues of mutual interest such as regional security and the dispute over Iran’s controversial nuclear program. Both Moscow and Yerevan maintain close political and economic ties with Tehran.
(Armenian Foreign Ministry photo: Oskanian meeting with the secretary of Russia's Security Council, Igor Ivanov, on Thursday.)