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Robert Kocharyan and Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Khatami, came out for peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict
The presidents of Armenia and Iran, Robert Kocharyan and Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Khatami, came out for peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict, the hot stage of which ended 10 years ago. The sides highly assessed direct contacts between the Armenian and Azeri presidents and expressed hope that they helped rapidly and finally solve the issue which would take into account the present-day realities and ensure the lasting and worthy peace in the region. The presidents of Armenia and Iran pointed out that the deepening and bringing closer together the interests of the region's countries would make it possible to create a favorable atmosphere for solving all the conflicts in the Caucasus. The situation in the zone of Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian enclave on the territory of Azerbaijan, and around it can be described as no peace, no war situation. When Ilkham Aliyev came to power in Azerbaijan he intensified bellicose rhetoric and declared that the republic's army could return the Azeri territories, occupied by the Armenian side, by using force. At the same time, Azerbaijan demonstrates its readiness to give a large-scale status to the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh republic but within a single Azeri state. But both Yerevan and Stepanakert (the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh) agree to consider any other issues of settlement (the return of refugees to the places of their permanent residence, the liquidation of the Lachinsky corridor which connects Nagorno-Karabakh with the territory of Armenia, the restoration of interrupted economic ties, the lifting of blockade from Karabakh and so on) but not changes in its present status. The Minsk group did not bring the sides' stands closer to each other either. The Armenian and Iranian presidents signed a treaty on the foundations and principles of cooperation. The press service of the head of Armenia reported that the delegations of the two countries also signed a memorandum on mutual relations on the results of the fifth joint session of intergovernmental commissions on the Armenian-Iranian ties; the treaty of cultural cooperation between the two countries in 2004-2007 and a memorandum on mutual understanding between the customs committee under the Armenian government and the customs service of Iran on the administrative cooperation in customs issues. President Mohammad Khatami arrived in Yerevan in reply to Robert Kocharyan's visit to Iran in December 2001. The Iranian president pointed out that when Armenia became an independent state a new stage in its cooperation with Iran began. Khatami expressed hope that his visit to Yerevan will help deepen the Armenian-Iranian relations in all spheres. The foreign trade between Armenia and Iran in January-July, 2004 amounted to $52.713 million against $45.746 million year-on-year. Last May a treaty was signed in Yerevan on the deliveries of the Iranian gas to Armenia and construction of an Iran-Armenia gas pipeline. Now the construction of the Kadzharan tunnel and the hydroelectric power station on the Araks river dividing the two sides is being actively discussed.
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