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Iran Opposes Any U.S. Peacekeeping Role For Karabakh

A HALO Trust road sign in an area in Nagorno-Karabakh that was cleared of land mines.
A HALO Trust road sign in an area in Nagorno-Karabakh that was cleared of land mines.
YEREVAN -- An Iranian diplomat says Tehran is strongly opposed to U.S. involvement in a multinational peacekeeping force that would be deployed around the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh in the event of an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace accord, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Iranian Ambassador to Armenia Seyed Ali Saghaeyan issued the warning at a news conference in Yerevan on June 23.

Such a peacekeeping operation is an important element of the current and previous peace proposals made by the United States, Russian, and French mediators spearheading international efforts to settle the dispute over the breakaway Azerbaijani region.

Analysts have long speculated about the possible composition of foreign troops that would enforce a future peace deal.

According to Saghaeyan, the United States is keen to have troops in Azerbaijan's Fizuli district, which borders Iran and was mostly occupied by Karabakh Armenian forces in 1993. He claimed such a move would pose a serious threat to Iran given its tense relations with Washington.

"Iran is the only country adjacent to the conflicting parties, and in terms if ensuring its own security, it will not allow the deployment of American forces," Saghayean said.

Meanwhile, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian on June 22 urged Western powers to respect Iran's geopolitical interests in the South Caucasus and held up Armenia's economic projects with the Islamic republic as a model for regional cooperation.

Ending an official visit to Germany, Sarkisian also asserted that the Western-backed energy projects involving Azerbaijan and excluding Armenia have only complicated a peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict.

In a speech at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Berlin, he said: "I do realize that in the light of the sanctions imposed on Iran some people will treat my approach with skepticism, but I am convinced that it is wrong and not possible to ignore Iran in regional solutions."

Sarkisian did not specify what concrete role Iran should play in regional security. Nor was it clear whether he thinks Tehran should have a major say in the Karabakh peace process.