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Analysis: Armenia, Azerbaijan In Fresh Talks On Karabakh

By Harry Tamrazian

Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov met yesterday in the presence of international mediators for a third time in as many months, but again left no indications of an imminent breakthrough in the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The daylong meeting again took place in the Czech capital Prague and was attended by the French, Russian, and U.S. co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group. It was the first face-to-face encounter between Oskanian and Mammadyarov since the envoys' visit to the conflict zone last month.

"We are continuing what we began at our first meeting," Oskanian told RFE/RL during a lunchtime break in the talks. "Our main objective is to create a common basis upon which we could build during further negotiations. We are working toward that objective and I can't say we have achieved it," he added.

Asked whether the two sides have made any progress in the last few months, he said: "It's a bit early to speak of common approaches. But the dialogue is useful."

While touring Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Nagorno-Karabakh in late July, the mediators openly criticized the conflicting parties for their perceived intransigence. The troika said bluntly that the onus is on them, not the Minsk Group, to push the protracted peace process forward.

The co-chairs were earlier said to be working on a new peace plan that would try to combine the so-called step-by-step strategy of conflict resolution preferred by Azerbaijan with the Armenian side's insistence on a package deal that would settle all issues simultaneously. But they declined to comment on this report.

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