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Armenia/Azerbaijan: Negotiators To Tackle Karabakh Deadlock

Helsinki, 10 September 1996 (RFE/RL) - International negotiators, trying to resolve the long-standing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, will meet this month for more discussions on how to break the deadlock.

An 11-nation negotiating group is still trying to draw-up a basic statement of principles which Armenia, Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh could accept as a basis for concrete negotiations to turn the current ceasefire into a permanent settlement, a spokesman told RFE/RL today. The ceasefire has been in effect since May 1994.

The international negotiating group includes the United States, Russia, Belarus, Turkey, Germany, France and other west European states.

Negotiations among the warring parties were suspended in July because of lack of progress. No date for their resumption has been set, but diplomats said today there might another round of negotiations next month after Armenia's presidential election.

There is still no sign that any side was prepared to make the compromises or concessions necessary to move beyond the ceasefire into a formal termination of hostilities and a permanent settlement, said the spokesman.

"Several individual members of the international group have talked with the parties to the conflict to try to find a way ahead," he said. "None of them has made any real progress."

The international group is aware that presidential envoys from Azerbaijan and Armenia, Vara Guluzade and Zhirair Liparitian, respectively, met in Germany at the end of August. There was no indication that their positions had come any closer.

This month's meeting of the international negotiators will take place without Armenia, Azerbaijan or ethnic Armenian representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh. The spokesman described the meeting as "basically a session to throw around some ideas on what to do next." The international group believes strongly that some progress should be made before the December summit meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said the spokesman. The OSCE negotiated the 1994 ceasefire.