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Armenia/Azerbaijan: France To Discuss Nagorno-Karabakh With Azeri President

Paris, 9 January 1997 (RFE/RL) -- An official spokesman says France will discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azeri President Heidar Aliyev when he visits Paris next week.

On Tuesday, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) named France as the new co-chair of the deadlocked negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. The other co-chair is Russia, whose post is permament.

A spokesman for the newly appointed French co-chairman, Jacques Blot, told RFE/RL that France considers a political settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict possible, based on the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and the autonomy of Nagorno-Karabakh inside Azerbaijan.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict erupted in 1988, after the region's ethnic Armenians declared sovereignty. The OSCE arranged a ceasefire in May 1994, but has been unable to convert this into a permanent settlement. Negotiations are conducted by an 11-state group -- the so-called Minsk group -- under the co-chairs.