During Key West Talks
For the Resolution of the Karabakh Conflict

Bush Applauds Peace Efforts in Asia
by Scott Lindlaw

Source: Associated Press
Date: April 9, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush (news - web sites) encouraged the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia on Monday to maintain their progress toward peace.

The Bush administration expressed cautious optimism about the two sides' negotiations last week at Key West, Fla., to end a 13-year conflict and said the United States is looking ahead to a new round of talks in June.

Bush met separately Monday with Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev and President Robert Kocharian of Armenia. Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, sat in on both sessions, which the administration called ``very warm in tone.''

Bush said he supports what both countries have done for peace in southwest Asia, "understanding there remains a good deal of work to be done," a senior administration official told reporters afterward.

"The president encouraged both leaders in the separate meetings to keep at the process, to work to overcome the differences," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The two leaders met with Bush after what his aides called "very fruitful" negotiations in Florida last week on a settlement of their territorial conflict over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Landlocked within Azerbaijan, the enclave has a majority Armenian population.

Diplomats from the United States, Russia and France mediated the talks.

The diplomats are preparing a proposal for a final settlement of the dispute between the former Soviet republics. It has dragged on since a 1994 cease-fire ended fighting after the breakup of the Soviet Union that had killed more than 30,000 people and drove a million from their homes.

Officials involved in the Florida talks said they probably would be continued in Geneva, Switzerland, in June. U.S. diplomats said several days of talks have been confirmed for Switzerland, although they said exact dates and locations have not been determined.

U.S. diplomats would not say how far apart the two sides are or whether a breakthrough is likely in Switzerland.

Copyright 2001 The Associated Press

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