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Talbott Leaves Moscow

Moscow, March 13 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott left Moscow today after holding talks with Russian officials to lay the groundwork for U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher's visit on March 21.

Talbott is now traveling to Baku, where he will hold talks with Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev. He will then go on to Erevan, for talks with Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosian. Talbott is hoping to advance the peace process in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Two high-ranking Russian envoys, First Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov and special envoy Vladimir Kazimirov are already in the region. They are scheduled to arrive in Nagorno-Karabakh today after holding talks in Erevan with Armenian officials.

Fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominantly Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, erupted in 1988. The area is now controlled by Armenian forces. A ceasefire sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has been in effect since May of last year, but negotiators have been unable to achieve a permanent cessation of hostilities.