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armenialiberty: Bush Sends Unpublicized Letter To Kocharian

By Emil Danielyan

U.S. President George W. Bush sent a letter on Thursday to President Robert Kocharian which official Yerevan said contained congratulations on his recent reelection criticized as deeply flawed by Washington.

Kocharian’s press office declined to publicize the full text of the letter, releasing to RFE/RL only some excerpts that did not have explicit congratulatory phrases. Bush was quoted as reaffirming the United States’ commitment to a “democratic, market-oriented and prosperous Armenia.” “I am confident that relations between our countries and peoples will continue to strengthen,” he said.

It was not clear whether Bush mentioned reported vote irregularities which led the U.S. State Department to express its “deep disappointment” with the Armenian authorities’ handling of last month’s presidential election. “Armenia’s leadership missed an important opportunity to advance democratization by holding a credible election,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in a statement on March 7.

According to a spokeswoman for Kocharian, Hasmik Petrosian, Bush also assured the Armenian leader that America will continue its efforts to broker a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Ordway, who attended Kocharian’s inauguration ceremony on Wednesday, made it clear last month that the Bush administration will continue to further its “significant agenda” in Armenia despite the election criticism. . “We will do that with the authorities, with President Kocharian in the years ahead as we have in the past several years,” Ordway said.

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