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Armenia, Azerbaijan Say Closer To Peace Deal

Armenia's foreign minister, Eduard Nalbandian (left), and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Elmar Mammadyarov
Armenia's foreign minister, Eduard Nalbandian (left), and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Elmar Mammadyarov
YEREVAN -- Armenia and Azerbaijan have reported significant progress toward the resolution of the dispute over the breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh following a meeting of their foreign ministers in Moscow, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The meeting on June 11 was hosted and mediated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in preparation for the upcoming Armenian-Azerbaijan summit that international mediators hope will result in a framework peace agreement on Karabakh.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry said Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Elmar Mammadyarov, narrowed their governments' differences on "a number of key issues of the basic principles of resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict."

The ministry statement said that the document on the basic principles "will be discussed at the trilateral summit to be held at the end of June [in Russia]."

The Azerbaijani Embassy in Russia issued a virtually identical statement that was cited by Azerbaijani news agencies. Neither side specified the issues that were reportedly agreed upon by Nalbandian and Mammadyarov.

The two ministers met in Moscow just days after U.S., Russian, and French diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group ended another tour of the conflict zone. The co-chairs' talks in Baku, Stepanakert, and Yerevan, in turn, followed a joint statement on the Karabakh dispute issued by the U.S., Russian, and French presidents.

The three leaders urged Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to finalize the basic principles drafted by the three mediating powers at their next meeting, due to be hosted by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Tatarstan on June 25.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev stressed the importance of that statement by the three presidents as he ended an official visit to Slovenia on June 11. He told journalists that conditions are ripe for achieving a breakthrough in the Karabakh negotiations.

Azerbaijani media report that Aliyev also said the mediators' current peace proposals are "the last chance" to settle the conflict peacefully.