Caption: Foreign Ministers Zohrab Mnatsakanyan of Armenia, third from left, and Elmar Mammadyarov of Azerbaijan, fourth from left, and international mediators meet in Geneva, January 30.

Armenian, Azeri FMs End Two-Day ‘Intensive’ Talks

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GENEVA (RFE/RL) — The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan concluded on Thursday, January 30, two days of fresh negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict which official Baku said were the “most intensive” in years. (See related editorial on Page 18.)

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Elmar Mammadyarov met in Geneva for two consecutive days in the presence of the U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-heading the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group. The two ministers and the mediators shed little light on the talks in an ensuing joint statement issued there.

The statement said that the “intensive discussions” focused on “possible next steps to prepare the populations for peace; principles and elements forming the basis of a future settlement; and timing and agenda for advancing the settlement process.”

The mediators again stressed the importance of “confidentiality in the settlement process” and “the need for creativity and a spirit of compromise,” it said.

“The ministers agreed to meet again in the near future under co-chair auspices,” added the statement. It gave no further details.

The Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministries also issued separate and largely identical statements.

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The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Leyla Abdullayeva, described the Geneva talks as “the most intensive discussions between the sides over the last years.” “The sides held thorough discussions over agenda items presented by the OSCE [Minsk Group] co-chairs,” she tweeted in English.

Both parties to the Karabakh conflict support the “intensification of negotiations,” Abdullayeva wrote after Wednesday’s meeting which she said lasted for seven hours.

Mnatsakanyan and Mammadyarov previously met in Slovakia’s capital Bratislava on December 4. Mammadyarov described those talks as “tough.” The mediators said, for their part, that the two ministers will meet again in early 2020 “to intensify negotiations on the core issues of a peaceful settlement.”

Mammadyarov claimed later in December that the Bratislava meeting touched on the most recent version of a framework peace accord originally drafted by the mediators in 2007. He said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov presented it to the conflicting parties two years ago.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry insisted, however, that “no document is being discussed” by the parties at present.

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