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Azerbaijan: Phased-In Nagorno Peace Plan Welcomed

Baku, 8 October 1997 (RFE/RL) - Azerbaijan has reportedly agreed to a plan put forward by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Our correspondent says the announcement came last night after Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov paid an unexpected visit to Baku for one-on-one talks with President Heidar Aliyev and other Azerbaijani officials. According to Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, the OSCE proposal envisages that the release of the occupied Azerbaijani territories, the lifting of Azerbaijan's blockade of Armenia, and the return of refugees should precede a decision on Nagorno-Karabakh's status.

The president of the unrecognized republic of Nagorno-Karabakh has rejected the so-called "step-by-step" approach, saying it threatens the security of Nagorno-Karabakh, a mainly ethnic Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan.

Our correspondent says Primakov's talks with Azerbaijani officials also focused on the Russian-Armenian Friendship and Cooperation treaty signed on August 29. Azerbaijani officials have expressed concern over statutes in the treaty calling for closer military ties between Moscow and Yerevan. Primakov repeated Moscow's stance that the treaty is not directed against any country, and in particular Azerbaijan.