The Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers and the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group pose for a photograph in Paris, January 16, 2019

Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers Meet Again

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PARIS (RFE/RL) — The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan acknowledged the need for “concrete measures to prepare the populations for peace” when they held fresh talks in Paris on Wednesday, January 16, according to international mediators.

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Elmar Mammadyarov met in the presence of the US, Russian and French mediators co-heading the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group for the fourth time in six months.

The press services of both ministers described the meeting, which lasted for more than four hours, as “useful.” They said the two sides will hold more “results-oriented” negotiations on resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

“The Ministers discussed a wide range of issues related to the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and agreed upon the necessity of taking concrete measures to prepare the populations for peace,” read a separate statement released by the Minsk Group co-chairs.

“During the meetings, the Co-Chairs reviewed with the Ministers key principles and parameters for the current phase of the negotiation process,” said the statement.

They also discussed a possible meeting between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, it said, adding that such a summit could “give a strong impulse to the dynamic of negotiations.”

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Aliyev and Pashinyan spoke to each other for the first time on the sidelines of a summit of former Soviet republics held in Tajikistan in September. There has been a significant decrease in ceasefire violations around Karabakh and along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border since then.

The two leaders talked again during another ex-Soviet summit that took place in Russia in early December. Aliyev said afterwards that the year 2019 will see a “new impetus” to the Karabakh peace process.

In virtually identical statements released after the Paris talks, the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministries confirmed that Mammadyarov and Mnatsakanyan discussed ways of preparing their populations for a peaceful settlement as well as achieving “security and sustainable regional development.” But they gave no details.

The mediators said in this regard that they “underlined the importance of possible mutually beneficial initiatives designed to fulfill the economic potential of the region.” They did not elaborate on those initiatives, saying instead that they plan to meet with Pashinyan and Aliyev “in the near future.”

Despite the continuing positive tone of statements made by Yerevan and Baku it remains unclear whether the conflicting parties narrowed their differences on how to end the protracted conflict.

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