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Armenia: 'Direct Political Relationship' With NATO Foreseen

Madrid, 9 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - Armenia's Foreign Minister Alexander Arzumanian says Armenia will actively engage itself in a direct political relationship with NATO.

And Arzumanian today said Yerevan supports the Western alliance's efforts to establish and implement a sound regional agenda, including a regional disarmament policy aimed at increasing confidence through openness. In a statement issued today at the Madrid NATO Summit, Arzumanian said that these measures would further consolidate the existing ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, and help facilitate a political settlement of the conflict.

The Armenian Foreign Minister said the NATO Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), which held its first meeting today, will help to integrate the peoples of the Caucasus region into a broader cooperative, security framework. Arzumanian noted the EAPC's goal of improved crisis prevention and peacekeeping.

Arzumanian said suggestions Armenia might join the Russia-Belarus Union is not on Armenia's foreign policy agenda.

Arzumanian had a bilateral meeting with France's President Jacques Chirac yesterday, and discussed the Karabakh dispute. France, the United States and Russia co-chair the international negotiations on a Karabakh settlement.

Arzumanian also met Georgia's President Eduard Shevarnadze to discuss Georgia-Armenia relations and regional security issues.