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Armenian, Azerbaijani FMs Discuss Nagorno-Karabakh In New York

Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian (3rd left) meets with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Elmar Mamadyarov (3rd right) for talks in New York on September 23.

The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan have held talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

The Foreign Ministries of the two countries said in separate statements on September 24 that Zohrab Mnatsakanian and Elmar Mamadyarov were joined during the talks on September 23 by the co-chairmen of the OSCE's so-called Minsk Group, Igor Popov of Russia, Stephane Visconti of France, Andrew Shoffer of the United States, and Andrzej Kasprzyk, the personal representative of the OSCE chairman-in-office.

During the talks, Mnatsakanian stressed the need to ensure the safe return home of Armenian citizens detained by the Azerbaijani side near the breakaway region, Armenia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Mamadyarov in turn pointed out that one Azerbaijani soldier was shot dead after he lost his way and entered territory controlled by Nagorno-Karabakh separatist forces.

Mainly Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan amid a 1988-94 war that claimed an estimated 30,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

Since 1994, it has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces that Azerbaijan says include troops supplied by Armenia. The region's claim to independence has not been recognized by any country.

Negotiations involving the Minsk Group helped forge a cease-fire in the region, which is not always honored, but have failed to produce a lasting settlement of the conflict.