Karabakh Reaffirms Stance to Minsk Group

STEPANAKERT (Noyan Tapan)–A delegation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Minsk Group co-chairmen for Nagorno-Karabakh conflict–Yuri Yukalov of Russia–Lynn Pasco of the United States and Georges Volgier of France as well as co-chairman of the Minsk Conference Valentin Lozinsky of Russia arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh Friday.

The visit was aimed at resuming the negotiations around the Karabakh conflict resolution–as Yukalov told a Karabakh TV correspondent on the day of their arrival. He stressed as well that the delegation members were ready to have meetings with the Karabakh leaders within the negotiations framework.

The delegation met with President Arkady Ghoukassian–Foreign Minister Naira Melkoumian–Defense Minister Samvel Babyan and other Karabakh officials. The meeting was held behind closed doors and lasted some five hours.

Yukalov–referring to the confidential nature of the talks–refrained from commenting–saying only that erstwhile OSCE Minsk Group’s proposals were being discussed.

The following day the Karabakh leadership and OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen continued the talks. The sides conferred about the principle questions–in particular–the conflict settlement methodology. The Karabakh side expressed its standpoint and made several proposals–which mediators promised to consider–the Karabakh Foreign Ministry reported.

At the same time the Ministry reported that Karabakh continued to insist on the "package" settlement deal and refused to accept the draft agreement offered by the mediators as a basis for the negotiations. The details of the talks have not been made public

Yukalov refused to comment on the closed door discussions and said that former proposals of the OSCE were discussed.

Karabakh leaders also made it clear that any proposals which are based on the principles unofficially adopted in the 1996 Lisbon Summit would be rejected.

On the same day the delegation of the OSCE left Stepanakert for Yerevan.

Prime Minister Robert Kocharian met with the Minsk delegation upon their arrival in Yerevan.

The participants of the meeting conferred about the ways of the conflict settlement and a wide range of issues concerning the negotiating process.

The prime minister’s press service declined to elaborate on the details of the meeting–saying that Kocharian firmly expressed his standpoint on the Karabakh conflict.

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