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Armenian, Azerbaijani Presidents End Karabakh Talks

Kocharian and Aliyev ahead of their meeting on 10 February (AFP) PARIS, 11 February 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Robert Kocharian and Ilham Aliyev, today ended talks aimed at ending the 18-year-old territorial dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.

RFE/RL correspondents reported that both leaders have left Rambouillet castle, near Paris, without commenting on the outcome of the talks.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is mediating the negotiations, is expected to release a statement later today.

Officials close to the talks told RFE/RL the two presidents will meet again at a date and venue that remain to be determined.

Kocharian and Aliyev began direct discussions on 10 February after meeting separately with French President Jacques Chirac.

In the run-up to the summit, diplomats expressed guarded optimism that progress could be made toward a framework for settling the Karabakh dispute, which has claimed at least 25,000 lives and driven more than a million people from their homes.

(RFE/RL's Armenian and Azerbaijani services)

The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

Click on the image to view an enlarged map of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone

In February 1988, the local assembly in Stepanakert, the local capital of the Azerbaijani region of NAGORNO-KARABAKH, passed a resolution calling for unification of the predominantly ethnic-Armenian region with Armenia. There were reports of violence against local Azeris, followed by attacks against Armenians in the Azerbaijani city of Sumgait. In 1991-92, Azerbaijani forces launched an offensive against separatist forces in Nagorno-Karabakh, but the Armenians counterattacked and by 1993-94 had seized almost all of the region, as well as vast areas around it. About 600,000 Azeris were displaced and as many as 25,000 people were killed before a Russian-brokered cease-fire was imposed in May 1994.

CHRONOLOGY: For an annotated timeline of the fighting around Nagorno-Karabakh in 1988-94 and the long search for a permanent settlement to the conflict, click here.

Click on the icon to view images of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict (Flash required)

To view an archive of all of RFE/RL's coverage of Nagorno-Karabakh, click here.