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Armenia/Azerbaijan: Negotiators Search For Nagorno-Karabakh Solution

Munich, 15 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - The international negotiators trying to find a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute return to Armenia and Azerbaijan this weekend for more discussions on possible compromises.

A spokesman said today no concrete results are expected from the visit by U.S., Russian and French negotiators. However, the spokesman added it is important to continue pushing for a settlement.

The team will visit Baku, Yerevan and Stepanakert, the chief city in Nagorno-Karabakh. The team includes U.S. negotiator Lynn Pascoe, the French diplomat Georges Vaugier and Valentin Lozinsky of Russia.

Nagorno-Karabakh is an enclave inside Azerbaijan largely populated by ethnic Armenians. The dispute erupted in 1988 when the ethnic Armenians demanded independence. A ceasefire was arranged in 1994 but there has been little progress towards a political settlement. Azerbaijan says it is willing to grant a large degree of autonomy to Nagorno-Karabakh but will not surrender sovereignty.

In May, the U.S., Russia and France offered a package of proposals which retained Azerbaijan sovereignty but offered a number of compromises. It failed to win approval but negotiators said it remains the basis of attempts to find a possible settlement.

A senior U.S. diplomat linked to the negotiations told RFE/RL this week that Washington is concerned at the long stalemate in the negotiations and the absence of any real move towards a settlement.

The diplomat said the region is one of growing importance, particularly because of international interest in Caspian sea oil. He said the continuing dispute between these two important countries hampers economic development. He also said there will be intensive discussions about Nagorno-Karabakh when the president of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, visits Washington at the end of the month.