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Azerbaijan Cites 'Positive' Talks On Disputed Region

Azerbaijani President Aliyev (file photo) Baku, 4 January 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has said efforts to resolve the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region are entering a new, positive, phase.

Aliyev made his remarks yesterday at a meeting of Azerbaijan's Security Council. He said Azerbaijani officials are using all means to ensure negotiations with Armenia develop "positively."

Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian exclave in Azerbaijan, has been de facto independent since Armenian-backed forces won control over the territory in 1994 following a six-year war.

Despite a cease-fire, Armenian-backed forces and Azerbaijani troops continue to face off across a demilitarized zone, and shooting occasionally erupts.

The two countries are involved in an international effort to reach a peaceful settlement, sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

(with additional AP reporting)