YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–President Robert Kocharian met on Tuesday with leaders of Armenia’s main political parties to brief them on the recent developmen’s in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process–the presidential office said without elaborating. Participants of the meeting–most of them heading the factions of the Armenian parliament–also avoided disclosing its details.
"The president informed us about the present state of the process," said Aghvan Vartanian of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.
Kocharian has regularly discussed with the party leaders his negotiations with Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliev–mediated by the French–Russian and US co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. So far the country’s top politicians have sounded satisfied with that were told by the head of state. But it is not clear if they have been informed about all details of the Karabakh peace talks.
In a separate development–a former senior American official involved in the negotiating process said on Tuesday Kocharian and Aliev were "very–very close" to striking a peace deal in the weeks leading to the October 1999 attack on the Armenian parliament. Strobe Talbott–the former deputy secretary of state in the Clinton administration–told the Azerbaijani Turan news agency that the assassination of then Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian and parliament speaker Karen Demirchian was a "human–political and geopolitical catastrophe."
Talbott discussed the Karabakh settlement with Kocharian and Sarkisian just a few hours before the parliament massacre–which left the Armenian leadership in disarray and is thought to have pushed back the peace process.
Talbott also claimed that Russian leaders tend to "distrust American–diplomatic–economic and security involvement in the South Caucasus and Central," viewing it as a threat to Russia’s national interests.
Senior Russian and US diplomats involved with the Minsk Group publicly deny the existence of serious differences on Karabakh between the two big powers.