OSCE Mediators Meet With Karabakh Officials

STEPANAKERT (Noyan Tapan)– An OSCE delegation including the co-chairmen of the Minsk Group on Nagorno Karabakh George Veugier (France)–Donald Keiser (USA) as well as a Russian member of the co-chairmanship–envoy Igor Studennikov arrived in Stepanakert Thursday.

Minsk Group co-chairman from Russia–Youri Yukalov–could not travel to Stepanakert–due to health concerns.

In the first half of the day–the members of the delegation met with Karabakh’s Foreign Minister Naira Melkumian. The sides exchanged views regarding further steps to seek a mutually acceptable solution to the Karabakh problem.

Melkumian said OSCE mediators presented new peace proposals on settling the Karabakh conflict. In an interview with RFE/RL–Melkumian welcomed what she saw as "positive changes" in the OSCE Minsk Group’s position on how to end the conflict.

The minister spoke following the meetings in Stepanakert with the Russian–US and French co-chairmen of the Minsk Group–who ended yet another round of shuttle diplomacy in the capitals of Azerbaijan–Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

"This was a different visit," Melkumian noted with satisfaction–adding that the mediators "seemed to receive with greater understanding" Karabakh’s insistence on a settlement based on a single framework accord settling all contentious issues.

Stepanakert and Yerevan rejected the Minsk Group’s last peace plan that called for a phased settlement of the conflict.

Officials in the Armenian foreign ministry said Wednesday the plan–put forward one year ago–was not discussed with the co-chairs in Yerevan. The OSCE mediators also met Thursday with Nagorno-Karabakh Republic President Arkady Ghoukassian and Defense Minister Samvel Babayan.

The delegation also met with Karabakh’s National Assembly Speaker Oleg Yesayan–Prime Minister Zhirair Poghossian.

The offcials spoke of the need to resume talks as soon as possible in order to get a final and comprehensive settlement of the Karabakh conflict.

Also attending the meeting were the chairman of the foreign relations committee of Karabakh’s National Assembly–Boris Arushunian–Deputy Foreign Minister Vasiliy Atajanian and other officials.

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