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OSCE Summit: France Expected To Co-Chair Nagorno-Karabakh Talks

Lisbon, 1 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - Diplomats at the European security conference say France is expected to succeed Finland as co-chairman of the deadlocked negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan on Nagorno-Karabakh.

Finland steps down this week after 20 months as co-chairman with Russia. Diplomats said Russia made clear it preferred France over the other candidates, the United States and Germany. The other members of the 11-nation negotiating group are also expected to support France.

Hungary announced today it was leaving the negotiating group to make way for Denmark, which is the new chairman of the OSCE. A Hungarian spokesman said the group should not be larger than the present 11 members.

Our correspondent says intensive negotiations are underway at the summit in Lisbon, Portugal, to persuade Armenia and Azerbaijan to accept a set of principles for negotiations on a political settlement of the nagorno-karabakh conflict.

Diplomats told reporters they were pessimistic about the chances of reaching agreement before the summit ends on Tuesday but said they would continue to apply pressure. A senior U.S. diplomat said tonight that negotiations would continue tonight with the presidents of both countries.