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Karabakh: U.S. Cites 'Substantial' Progress in Peace Talks

Washington, 10 April (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. government say talks between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan on the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute showed so much progress last week that more negotiations have been scheduled for June in Switzerland. Senior U.S. administration officials says the progress was "substantial" in the four days of talks in Key West, Florida between presidents Robert Kocharian of Armenia and Heidar Aliyev of Azerbaijan.

Kocharian and Aliyev met separately with U.S. President George Bush at the White House yesterday. Kocharian left without making any public statement. Aliyev spoke briefly, but declined to elaborate on the progress at Key West.

"I haven't had the chance to measure how close we (Armenia and Azerbaijan) are now."

The Bush administration also praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Jacques Chirac for work in the peace process. The U.S., Russia, and France make up the OSCE Minsk Group of nations searching for a resolution to Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.

Kocharian and Aliyev have met 15 times to discuss Nagorno-Karabakh -- a predominantly Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan that was the scene of fighting between the two nations from 1990-1994.