Ambassador's statement irresponsible - US Department of State

Assa-Irada, Azerbaijan
March 1 2005

Baku, February 28, AssA-Irada

The US ambassador to Armenia John Evans's statement that "Upper
Garabagh can't be returned to Azerbaijan", made during his informal
meeting with the Armenian Diaspora representatives at a California
university on February 25, has sparked different responses from
Azerbaijan and the United States.

Steve Tike, a spokesman for the US Department of State, regarded
Evans's utterance as 'an irresponsible statement', which reflects only
his personal views. "Evans's statement doesn't reflect Washington's
position. The US stance on the Upper Garabagh remains unchanged",
he said.

The United States has repeatedly stated that it does not recognize
Upper Garabagh as an independent state and supports Azerbaijan's
territorial integrity, the spokesman added.

The Azerbaijani ambassador to USA Hafiz Pashayev has discussed the
matter with US officials, including the US Deputy Assistant Secretary
of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Laura Kennedy.

During the discussions, Pashayev said that Azerbaijani and American
officials are displeased with Evans's statement. "Evans's undiplomatic
and irresponsible statement on the eve of the next meeting of
Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers in Prague is unacceptable,"
Pashayev said.

Ambassador Evans told a Monday news conference in Yerevan that his
statement on Upper Garabagh was misinterpreted. "I stated in the
meeting that the United States recognizes the territorial integrity
of Azerbaijan and that the Upper Garabagh status issue may be resolved
by Armenia and Azerbaijan through talks," he said.

Washginton continues its efforts at settling the conflict within the
OSCE Minsk Group and considers the meetings held so far by the two
countries' foreign ministers reassuring, he added.*