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Turkish, Armenian, Azerbaijani Ministers To Meet At UN

Turkey's Ali Babacan
NEW YORK (Reuters) -- The war between Russia and Georgia has shifted the political landscape in the Caucasus and is prompting Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, three countries with long-standing disputes, to try to settle their differences, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said.

The foreign ministers from all three countries will meet on September 26 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to discuss "frozen conflicts."

"The recent crisis in Georgia urged all the countries in the region to reevaluate policies and also have a stronger feeling of urgency," Babacan said at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Russia sent troops deep into Georgian territory during a five-day war last month over Georgia's breakaway, pro-Russian province of South Ossetia.

Georgia and Turkey form a key energy transfer link for oil and gas from Azerbaijan.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul, accompanied by Babacan, made a historic first visit to Armenia on September 6 to watch a soccer match between the two countries.

The neighbors have no diplomatic ties but a relationship haunted by whether ethnic Armenians killed by Ottoman Turks during World War I were victims of systemic genocide.

Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in a show of solidarity with Azerbaijan, a Turkic-speaking ally that was fighting Armenian-backed separatists over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

"The political will is there, which is probably very important, and then the rest is details to be discussed and the devil is obviously in the details of course," Babacan said.

He said he expected an acceleration in the talks after the October 15 Azerbaijani presidential election.

Babacan's counterparts are Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov.