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Mediators See No Real Progress In Karabakh Talks

Presidents Kocharian and Aliyev ahead of talks on 10 February (AFP) PARIS, 11 February 2006 (RFE/RL) -- International mediators at a summit between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to settle their 18-year-old dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh today said the talks brought no substantial progress.

Hours earlier, Robert Kocharian of Armenia and Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan left Rambouillet Castle, near Paris, without comment. The two South Caucasus leaders began direct discussions on 10 February after meeting separately with French President Jacques Chirac.

In a statement issued at the end of the summit, the co-chairs of the Minsk Group mandated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to mediate in the talks said the discussions were "intensive," but provided no breakthrough.

The American co-chair, Ambassador Steven Mann, told RFE/RL after the summit: "The full range of issues were discussed. There were, I think, good personal atmospherics between the two presidents and the discussions did not result in a substantial change of the positions that the parties have held for months."

Mann said he and the other two Minsk Group co-chairs -- Bernard Fassier of France and Yury Merzlyakov of Russia -- will meet in Washington early next month to assess the outcome of the Rambouillet summit.

In the run-up to the talks, diplomats had 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.