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U.S. Official Hopes Sarkisian Visits Turkey

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian
Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian
YEREVAN -- A U.S. official says he hopes Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian will visit Turkey in October to continue the fence-mending "football diplomacy" between Yerevan and Ankara, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza also acknowledged, though, that the U.S.-backed dialogue between Turkey and Armenia has stalled recently and that he is less optimistic about the chances for the normalization of relations.

He told RFE/RL that, "I do have some hope that that will happen, but I can't predict how quickly or what can be agreed."

Sarkisian has been invited by Turkish President Abdullah Gul to watch the October 14 World Cup qualifying match between the two countries' national soccer teams. But Sarkisian has made it clear that he has no intention of attending unless Turkey takes steps to reopen the border with Armenia.

Sarkisian has expressed frustration with Ankara in recent months, implicitly accusing the Turks of reneging on agreements reached during yearlong negotiations with his government.