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Former Armenian President Meets With U.S. Karabakh Mediator

Former President Robert Kocharian's diplomatic meetings have prompted speculation that he will return to government.
YEREVAN -- Former Armenian President Robert Kocharian has met Washington's top Nagorno-Karabakh negotiator in Yerevan to discuss the current status of Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Viktor Soghomonian told RFE/RL on April 1 that Kocharian and Robert Bradtke, the U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, spoke about "issues related to the current phase" of the Karabakh peace process during their meeting the previous weekend. He did not elaborate.

The meeting took place during the latest visit to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh by Bradtke and his fellow Minsk Group co-chairs from Russia and France.

Kocharian -- who was in office from 1998-2008 -- has recently criticized the Armenian government's economic policies and defended his own decisions regarding the Karabakh dispute.

This has fuelled growing speculation about his desire to return to government.

Levon Zurabian, a leader of the opposition Armenian National Congress, dismissed talk of possible friction between Kocharian and current President Serzh Sarkisian.

"We must understand that Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian are different faces of the same regime," Zurabian told RFE/RL. "Today the international community perceives them as a single team that gave promises in the past, initiated concrete processes, and now must take care of those processes," he said.

But Giro Manoyan, a senior representative of the nationalist Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), which supported Kocharian throughout his decade-long rule, disagreed.

"I think the American co-chair wanted to get first-hand information from [Kocharian] on the course and format [of negotiations]," he told RFE/RL.