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Russian, Armenian Leaders Hail Close Ties After Moscow Meeting

Russian President Vladimir Putin receives his visiting Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian at the Kremlin on November 15.

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian has hailed his country's close ties with Russia after meeting with President Vladimir Putin during a visit to Moscow to mark the Days of Armenian Culture in Russia celebrations.

Sarkisian on November 15 said the "advancement of Russian-Armenian cooperation is evident in all directions."

"Close contacts between our people, cultural, educational, scientific ties are of particular importance to us," Sarkisian added.

A Kremlin statement said the two leaders discussed "interaction of the two countries in the political and economic spheres, in the sphere of security, and humanitarian cooperation."

No official mention was made of talks scheduled for November 16 in Moscow between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan to discuss the longstanding conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenian-backed separatists seized the mainly Armenian-populated region from Azerbaijan during a war that killed some 30,000 people. Intermittent fighting has continued since a 1994 cease-fire and diplomatic efforts to resolve the territorial dispute have brought little progress.

Seeking 'Concrete Results'

Edward Nalbandian, Yerevan's foreign minister, and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Elmar Mammadyarov, are expected to meet in talks sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, which is jointly led by Russia, the United States, and France.

Mammadyarov told reporters in Baku ahead of his trip to Moscow that Azerbaijan does not want "negotiations to be held for the sake of negotiations. We demand concrete results."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is scheduled to visit to Armenia and Azerbaijan early next week, ostensibly to mark the 25th anniversary of Russia's establishing diplomatic relations with Yerevan and Baku after the former Soviet republics' independence

But Russian state-run TASS news agency quoted Lavrov as saying the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh would also be discussed.

"We will try to understand at what stage our efforts on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement are after the meeting of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Geneva," Lavrov said.

During meetings in the Swiss city on October 16, Sarkisian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev pledged to intensify the peace process and bolster the cease-fire regime in the region's conflict zone.