Iranian leader's visit to Armenia of importance to region - paper

Azg, Yerevan
4 Sep 04

Text of Akop Chakryan's report by Armenian newspaper Azg on 4 September
headlined "Iranian President Khatami's visit is of special importance
to Armenia" and subheaded "It cannot but interest the South Caucasus
republics, as well as the states which have interests in the region"

The president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mohammad Khatami,
will arrive in Armenia on 8 September for a two-day official
visit. President Khatami visited Azerbaijan on 5 August and is going
to visit Turkey by the end of September. Mohammad Khatami's visit to
Azerbaijan is important to Armenia in terms of the Karabakh issue,
which was discussed there, and Azerbaijan's indignation at Iran's
pro-Armenian policy.

We can assume that Turkey will also draw President Khatami's attention
to these issues. Thus, Mr Khatami's visit to Turkey should also be
viewed as being important to Armenia. First Vice-President Habibi's
visit to Armenia in 1996 was the first ever visit by a high-ranking
Iranian official. And now Armenia is going to host the president of
the republic. Armenia is looking forward to maintaining closer ties
with Iran after the visit.

A regular session of the two countries' intergovernment commission is
going to be held during the president's visit. Iran will be represented
at the session by Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Safdar
Hoseyni. President Khatami will meet [Armenian President] Robert
Kocharyan, make a speech in the parliament, visit Yerevan State
University and participate in ceremonies organized for high-ranking
officials.

Taking into consideration Iran's influence and authority in the
region, the president's visit should go far beyond the borders of
Armenia. It will be important to Georgia, Azerbaijan, as well as
Russia and Turkey. The USA should not be left off this list as it is
Russia's rival in maintaining its influence in the South Caucasus.