Washington briefing: Armenian issues get high-level attention at G8 summit and in phone conversations

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Thursday July 09, 2009

G8 summit host Silvio Berlusconi gesturing to German Chancellor Angela Merkel with Indian, U.S., British, French, and Canadian leaders looking on, July 9, 2009. G8Italia2009.it

Washington - The presidents of France, Russia, and the United States were expected to issue a joint statement on Karabakh during the G8 summit of the world's leading economies being held on July 8-10 in Italy.

"There are ongoing consultations on the form of the statement on Nagorno-Karabakh; the content of the statement has already been agreed upon," Russian presidential aide Arkady Dvorkovich was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency after the first day of the summit.

The last time a statement on Karabakh was issued in such a high-level format was in June 1997 during G8 summit in Denver, Colorado.

President Barack Obama heard about Karabakh and Turkish-Armenian relations from his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gül in a July 5 phone conversation, according to the White House readout of the call made available the same day.

According to the readout, "President Gul updated President Obama on the status of Turkish-Armenian relations. They also discussed the Minsk Group's ongoing efforts to address [the] Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," in addition to other issues on bilateral agenda.

On July 3, the Turkish president also called his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev.

According to Azerbaijani media reports, Mr. Gül's calls were intended in part to put the Karabakh issue on the U.S.-Russia agenda ahead of the July 6-8 bilateral and subsequent G8 summit.

While it is unclear whether the issue was discussed at the presidential level, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry, "the prospects of progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement" did come up during a July 7 meeting between Undersecretary of State William Burns and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigori Karasin.

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