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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 16, 1996


The President welcomed His Holiness Karekin I, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, on his first Pontifical visit to the United States.

The President and His Holiness Karekin I, Catholicos of All Armenians, agreed that the Armenian spirit -- strong religious beliefs, entrepreneurship, and great courage -- helped Armenia to overcome the legacy of Soviet rule and emerge as a new and independent state.

His Holiness Karekin I, Catholicos of All Armenians, bestowed on President Clinton the ?Gregory the Illuminator Award? for his leadership in supporting Armenia's independence, especially through large-scale U.S. assistance. President Clinton noted the special ties that exist between the United States and Armenia and expressed his commitment to continue to deepen those ties.

President Clinton and His Holiness Karekin I, Catholicos of All Armenians, discussed their deep concerns about the conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh and in the Caucasus region. Both the President and His Holiness emphasized the importance of reinforced efforts toward a durable peace based on compromise from all sides.

Both agreed that expanded regional cooperation among the states of the Caucasus and its neighbors will be critical to meet the challenges Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia jointly face in developing fully their independence, building prosperity, fostering democracy, establishing durable peace, and deepening their ties with the West.

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