Armenian, Azeri FMs to Meet Again

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet again soon for further talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Armenian Foreign Ministry said on Monday, May 27.

The ministry spokeswoman, Anna Naghdalyan, said Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and US, Russian and French mediators discussed in Yerevan preparations his “upcoming” talks with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov.

The three mediators co-chairing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group visited the Armenian capital at the start of a fresh tour of the Karabakh conflict zone. They met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan later in the day.

Naghdalyan gave no date of Mnatsakanyan’s planned talks with Mammadyarov.

The top Armenian and Azerbaijani diplomats most recently met in Moscow on April 15 in the presence of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. A joint statement released by the three ministers said the warring sides reaffirmed their stated intention to strengthen the ceasefire regime around Karabakh and along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and to take other take confidence-building measures.

Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev briefly spoke with each other when they visited Brussels on May 13. It was Pashinyan’s and Aliyev’s fifth face-to-face contact in about eight months. Their first meeting held in Tajikistan in September was followed by a significant decrease in ceasefire violations on the frontlines.

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In an interview with the Russian daily Kommersant published on Monday, Mammadyarov sounded cautiously optimistic about further Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks. He said Baku last year give Armenia’s new leadership time to “familiarize itself with details of the negotiation process.”

“That transitional phase ended, and negotiations resumed at the level of both the leaders of the two countries and the foreign ministers … The dialogue is going on in the existing format and under a particular agenda, which gives rise to certain optimism,” he said.

Mammadyarov also stressed that confidence-building measures by the two sides must go hand in hand with “real steps in the negotiation process” and “elimination of severe consequences” of the conflict. That first and foremost means a “withdrawal of occupation forces from Azerbaijan’s territories,” he said.

 

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