Clinton Yeltsin Chirac Issue Statement on Karabakh

WASHINGTON (Reuter)–President Bill Clinton–French President Jacques Chirac and Russian President Boris Yeltsin–in Denver for the G7 Summit– issued a joint statement Friday urging the parties to “take a positive approach–to build upon this proposal and to negotiate an early settlement.”

They expressed deep concern over the continuing conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh–affirmed their commitment to help negotiate a resolution and said their proposal was comprehensive “taking into consideration the legitimate interests and concerns of all parties.”

The leaders also warned that “without progress toward a durable settlement–(a three-year-old) cease-fire could break down” and said “primary responsibility” for a settlement rests with the parties and their leaders.

The United States–France and Russia–as part of their new peace initiative in the oil-rich Caucasus–proposed that Armenia recognize the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh enclave as part of Azerbaijan–western diplomats say.

The three mediators–operating as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group–have vowed to keep their proposals secret.

But authoritative diplomatic sources told Reuters that in return for Armenia recognizing the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan–Azerbaijan would have to grant Nagorno-Karabakh an extraordinarily high degree of autonomy.

Paul Goble–a former State Department official who is an expert on inter-ethnic conflict said a solution must be more comprehensive–possibly requiring that Turkey acknowledge that a 1915 attack on Armenian was Genocide–for instance.

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