YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—President Serzh Sarkisian will receive a top U.S. official and fly to Saint Petersburg this week for fresh talks with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev that are expected to focus on the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Sarkisian’s office announced the trip in a short statement issued on Monday. It said nothing about the agenda of his upcoming meeting with Medvedev scheduled for Friday.
The meeting will come amid continuing Russian-Armenian negotiations on the price of Russian natural gas supplied to Armenia. Armenian officials have said Yerevan still hopes to prevent another price hike planned by Russia’s Gazprom monopoly.
The Karabakh conflict has always been on the agenda of frequent contacts between the Armenian and Russian leaders. Medvedev has been personally involved in international efforts to broker its peaceful settlement.
The U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, Matthew Bryza, said last week that Medvedev will host yet another meeting of Sarkisian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi on March 5. Sarkisian’s office has declined to confirm that.
The Armenian president will travel to Saint Petersburg after holding talks with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg. The latter is scheduled to arrive in Yerevan on Wednesday and proceed to Baku the next day.
Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman Tigran Balayan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that Steinberg will discuss with Armenian officials bilateral ties and the current state of the Karabakh negotiating process.
Armenian analysts said the Karabakh issue will be the main focus of Steinberg’s talks in Yerevan and Baku. They suggested that both Moscow and Washington are now seeking to reinvigorate a process that reached an impasse at the OSCE’s December summit in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana.