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Azerbaijan Says No New Karabakh Peace Proposals

Presidents Dmitry Medvedev of Russia (center), Serzh Sarkisian of Armenia (right), and Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan meet in St. Petersburg on June 17.

Presidents Dmitry Medvedev of Russia (center), Serzh Sarkisian of Armenia (right), and Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan meet in St. Petersburg on June 17.

YEREVAN -- Azerbaijan has denied Armenian claims that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev presented his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts with a new international plan last month to resolve the conflict over the breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian referred to what was discussed with Medvedev in St. Petersburg as "a new version of the Madrid Principles" of a Karabakh settlement at a news conference in Yerevan with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on July 4.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry dismissed these statements late on July 5.

"Even though Russia plays a large role in this process and the Russian president has taken part in several meetings [between Presidents Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sarkisian], proposals are drawn up only by the [OSCE's Minsk Group] co-chairs," Azerbaijani media quoted ministry spokesman Elkhan Polukhov as saying.

"Updated Madrid proposals exist only in the form of a document, and they were submitted to both parties last year," he said. "Only various approaches [to these proposals] were discussed in St. Petersburg."

Polukhov added that "the statement by Nalbandian is only aimed at distracting the Armenian and international publics from the essence of the issue."

Armenian President Sarkisian had likewise spoken of "the latest version" of the proposed framework accord as he met with the visiting French, Russian, and U.S. co-chairs of the Minsk Group on July 3. A statement by his office said the document was "presented in the course of the St. Petersburg negotiations between the presidents of Armenia, Russia, and Azerbaijan."

According to senior figures in the ruling Republican Party, Sarkisian reacted positively to the new peace proposals although his Azerbaijani counterpart Aliyev apparently did not. They claim that Aliyev cut short his visit to Russia as a result.

The next day the Armenian side reported the worst fighting between Karabakh-Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in the disputed region in more than two years, with five soldiers being killed.

Baku has repeatedly claimed to have largely accepted a modified "Madrid document" that was drafted by the three mediating powers last fall.

Armenian reaction to that document has been more ambiguous, with officials in Yerevan saying only that the document's original version -- which was unveiled in the Spanish capital in 2007 -- remains "a basis for negotiations."