Kocharian Aliyev Discuss Karabakh Conflict

GENEVA (Reuters)–Azerbaijan’s President Haydar Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart Robert Kocharian met on Friday at a lakeside villa near Geneva to discuss the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh–diplomats said.

"The two leaders are meeting tte–tte. But no breakthrough is expected. There are huge gaps between the two positions," said one diplomat.

A Swiss Foreign Ministry official said the one-day meeting was at the initiative of the Azeri and Armenian leaders. The Armenian and Azeri missions to the United Nations in Geneva declined to provide further details.

Negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Karabakh have been at a stalemate for the past nine months.

Aliyev last met Kocharian during the NATO summit in Washington in April and the two leaders agreed to maintain regular contacts with each other.

But he canceled a June trip to Luxembourg to meet Kocharian after doctors had advised the 76-year-old Azeri leader to have a lighter work load following his heart bypass operation in April.

Aliyev has often drawn parallels between the crisis in the Balkans and the Karabakh conflict.

Azeri officials have more than once indicated they wanted a stronger role for NATO and the United Nations in efforts to resolve the problem.

As Switzerland is a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe–Swiss officials have been involved in efforts to end the conflict in the mountainous enclave. But various OSCE peace initiatives have so far come to nothing.

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