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An ethnic Armenian fighter in Karabakh
Baku, 27 July 2005 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky, who is on a visit to Baku, today said international mediators were cautiously optimistic a breakthrough could be reached soon in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.
Addressing reporters in the Azerbaijani capital after talks with President Ilham Aliyev, Dobriansky said recent consultations had moved in a "very constructive and positive direction."
"Our interlocutors who are directly involved with this issue -- I am not, but those who are directly involved in this issue have indicated that they are cautiously optimistic. There will be a meeting next month, in August, of both [the] presidents [of Armenia and Azerbaijan], and it can potentially be a turning point."
Aliyev is scheduled to meet with his Armenian counterpart Robert Kocharian on the sidelines of a CIS summit in Kazan on 26 August.
The United States co-chairs with Russia and France the so-called Minsk Group of nations mandated by the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe to help Armenia and Azerbaijan find a solution to their 17-year-old conflict.
The predominantly ethnic Armenian enclave of Karabakh seceded from Soviet Azerbaijan in 1988, triggering military hostilities that killed an estimated 35,000 people and drove tens of thousands of civilians from their homes. Despite a 1994 cease-fire, Armenia and Azerbaijan remain technically at war over Nagorno-Karabakh.
(RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service)