US Support Vital for Transcaucasus Peace

The opinion-page article, ``An Agony of Indifference in Nagorno-Karabakh,'' June 27, captures the tragic situation confronting millions of Armenians, Azerbaijanis, and citizens of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Today, peace in the Transcaucasus is within reach. Plans offered by both the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) and the Russian government are now on the table. We cannot afford to lose this opportunity.

Sadly, Azerbaijan has delayed the current negotiations while it accumulates new weapons, institutes a draft, and continues (along with Turkey) to enforce a total blockade of Armenia. While Azerbaijan's resistance to Russian peacekeeping forces may be viewed positively in the West, it must not mask the games the government of Gaidar Aliyev is playing with the CSCE process. In this context the Azeris playing the Russian card is likely another excuse to stall the peace process.

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As the author makes clear, a lasting peace cannot be achieved without immediate United States leadership. A strong US commitment of diplomatic resources and a plan combining the pending CSCE and Russian-negotiated agreements can bring a speedy end to the suffering. Any gesture rewarding Azerbaijan, especially while Mr. Aliyev is blocking an opportunity for peace, is premature.

Nearly eight months ago, Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh signed the CSCE's framework for peace. Instead of joining the process, Azerbaijan launched a massive five-month military offensive. We fear that Azerbaijan's current military buildup and its refusal to negotiate, combined with the lack of cooperation between the US and Russia, is far too reminiscent of last fall's failure. Rouben Shugarian, Washington Armenian Ambassador to the US

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