ASBAREZ Online [08-05-2004]


1) US to Urge Georgia-Russia Rapprochement During Saakashvili Visit
2) Russian State Duma Adopts Anti-Georgian Statement
3) Iranian President on Baku Visit
4) Jordan’s Prince Hassan Extends His Support to Catholicos Aram I

1) US to Urge Georgia-Russia Rapprochement During Saakashvili Visit

WASHINGTON (AFP)–US Secretary of State Colin Powell and other top US
are to press Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili this week for an easing in
Georgia-Russian tensions, now inflamed over two separatist regions in the
former Soviet republic, the State Department said.
Powell will raise the issues of Abkhazia and South Ossetia when he meets with
Saakashvili on Thursday, spokesman Richard Boucher said. The president, who is
on a private trip to the United States, will also see officials from the US
National Security Council and the Pentagon.
“The Georgians and the Russians have had meetings and discussions about it,
and we have certainly encouraged them all to try to work this out and reach
arrangements that avoid raising tensions and avoid potential clashes between
them,” Boucher told reporters.
Boucher spoke as the two countries appeared on war footing after Russia
it could resort to military action in response to a Tbilisi threat to open
on vessels that “illegally” entered the Black Sea waters of Abkhazia and a top
Russian lawmaker said he was shot at by Georgian troops while visiting South
Russia’s defense minister said Georgia’s leaders were turning into “pirates”
while the foreign ministry in Moscow described Saakashvili’s policies were
“unprecedented” and warned of a looming war.
The 36-year-old US-educated Saakashvili has vowed to reunify his fractured
republic since toppling the old administration in a peaceful “rose revolution”
last year and has taken a dim of view of Russian involvement in his
impoverished nation.
He is coming to the United States to attend the annual convention of the
American Bar Association in the US state of Georgia during which he will be
awarded the group’s Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative Award for
promoting the rule of law in his country.

2) Russian State Duma Adopts Anti-Georgian Statement

(Combined Sources)On August 5, the Russian State Duma unanimously adopted a
special statement concerning “the deterioration of the situation in the
Caucasus.” The document reads, in particular, that there exists conditions of
unending threats on the part of the Georgian leadership in regard to Russian
citizens permanently residing in the territory of South Ossetia and Abkhazia
and “there appear circumstances that infringe upon the Russian sovereignty.”
The Russian parliamentarians noted that the conflict in Georgia “is swiftly
moving toward a large-scale military confrontation in the Caucasus.”
“Because of the Georgian leadership, the Russian Federation may be
involved in
it. In the event of the development of a military conflict, thousands of
Russian citizens residing in the Caucasian region’s republic might be
involved,” reads the document.
The State Duma called upon the President and Government of Russia to help
normalize the situation in areas of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and guarantee
the security of Russian citizens living the regions.
In responding to the Duma’s statement, the Georgian Foreign Ministry noted
that the Russian parliamentarians used “unacceptable terminology” and
misrepresented facts. Responding to an August 4 threat issued by the Russian
side concerning the use of water routes off the coast of Georgia, which stated
that “any attempts to harm, or moreover, threaten the lives of Russian
would be duly repelled,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry said that Abkhazia and
its territorial waters enter the jurisdiction of Georgia, giving Georgia full
right to establish control over the territories.

3) Iranian President on Baku Visit

(BBC)–Iran’s President Mohammad Khatami has arrived in Azerbaijan’s capital,
Baku, for a two-day visit with Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev.
The two will hold talks on Tehran-Baku relations, as well as cooperation at
the regional and international levels, and are expected to sign a string of
bilateral agreements aimed at bolstering economic, educational, and cultural
co-operation between the two states.
This is President Khatami’s first ever visit to Azerbaijan, Iran’s crucial
strategic neighbor.
The most important issues on the agenda will be regional security and
territorial rights over the oil-rich landlocked Caspian Sea.
Although Azerbaijan and Iran’s shared border runs across important oil
reserves, the two countries share more than just a frontier.
Nearly 20% of Iran’s population are ethnic Azeris and Shia Islam is the
dominant religion in both countries. Nevertheless, past relations have been
Tehran has expressed concern over Baku’s pro-Western stance, with Azerbaijan
America’s ally in the “war on terror” and Washington backing the Baku-Ceyhan
pipeline project in the region.
For its part, Baku is worried about the possible spread of Islamic
fundamentalism in Azerbaijan.
Thus, few expect President Khatami’s visit to bring major changes, although
analysts say any co-operation with Iran is important for the security of this
extremely fragile region.
The two presidents are expected to issue separate joint statements on
political issues and that of the Caspian Sea at the end of their meeting to be
held later on in the day.

4) Jordan’s Prince Hassan Extends His Support to Catholicos Aram I

(Combined Sources)–On Tuesday, August 3, His Highness Prince Hassan Bin Talal
of Jordan–uncle of King Abdullah and brother of the deceased King
Hussein–extended his condolences and support to His Holiness Aram I,
Catholicos of all Armenians of Cilicia, on the eve of the brutal church
bombings that rocked Iraq over the weekend.
In his letter, Prince Hassan noted, “The destruction of God’s homes disturbed
us all. The mischievous acts targeted not only Iraq, but also every single one
of us. May God grant peace unto the souls of the innocent victims and
physical and spiritual recovery to the injured.”
Prince Hassan also stated that he stood in solidarity with the Catholicos’s
persistent efforts to build understanding amongst the Christian and Muslim
peoples through peaceful and productive dialogue.
Prince Hassan, who paid a visit to Aram Catholicos only two weeks ago, is
scheduled to lecture on Christian-Muslim relations at the Antelias Seminar
sometime during the upcoming weeks.

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