ANKARA: Armitage Fails to Convince Aliyev to Open Armenia Border

Zaman, Turkey
March 28 2004

Armitage Fails to Convince Aliyev to Open Armenia Border

The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, said
yesterday that the Washington administration favors the opening of
the border between Turkey and Armenia; however, Azerbaijani President
Ilham Aliyev is opposed to reopening the border while certain issues
remain unresolved.

After his meetings in Baku, Armitage said that Aliyev did not seem
very receptive to Washington’s suggestion. Armitage speculated that
part of the reason for Aliyev’s demeanor might have been related to
the fact that Aliyev thinks it would be very difficult to resolve the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict if Azerbaijan were to reopen their border
with Armenia at the present time.

Armitage added that the U.S. does not have any plan to establish a
military base in Azerbaijan and that the topic was not even on the
agenda of their talks. He also conveyed the U.S.’s concerns about
resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. “Incidents in Kosovo roused
concerns that fierce fighting might resume in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
Armitage emphasized that basic recommendations for a solution have to
be prepared by Yerevan and Baku.

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