Kocharian Aliyev Meet in Geneva

YEREVAN–BAKU (Reuters–RFE/RL)–Azeri President Haydar Aliyev said on Monday after weekend talks with Armenian President Robert Kocharian on Karabakh that they had agreed to increase border security and pursue negotiations.

"Our negotiations showed that both Azerbaijan and Armenia are determined to find a political solution to the conflict," Aliyev told reporters on his return to Baku on Monday from Geneva where the talks were held.

"The negotiations resulted in a decision to strengthen and develop the cease-fire regime along our border," Aliyev said.

Kocharian–speaking to reporters in Yerevan–said concrete steps were agreed at the negotiations.

"The ministers of defense of Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet at the border to put an end to exchanges of fire between the two sides," he said.

Both presidents said there was still a long way to go before a comprehensive solution to the conflict could be found and that both sides needed to compromise to reach one.

Kocharian said no date for the next meeting had been set but that the presidents were likely to meet at a series of international forums they are planning to attend.

Kocharian said on Monday the weekend meeting with his Azeri counterpart in Geneva–the second in just over a month–was another step forward in the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. But he again did not specify whether major progress has been made on any of the sticking points.

"Every such meeting brings us closer to a final settlement [of the dispute]," Kocharian told reporters on his return to Yerevan. "We now understand each other’s concerns much better ," he said.

Kocharian said he and Aliyev agreed on a set of measures aimed at "reinforcing the cease-fire regime" around Karabakh and along the Armenian-Azeri border. The modalities will be worked out "very soon" by the two countries’ defense ministers–according to the Armenian leader.

Kocharian refused to state if any agreement was reached in Geneva on Karabakh’s future status–the main stumbling block of the negotiating process. But he added: "I think that time will come for [the Armenian and Azeri governmen’s] to present our proposals to the Minsk Group’s co-chairs."

The Group’s most recent plan envisages a "common state" between Azerbaijan and the Armenian-populated Karabakh–which broke away from Baku’s rule in the late 1980s. It has been on the whole accepted by Armenia and Karabakh but rejected by Azerbaijan.

Speaking to reporters after the talks in Geneva on Sunday–Kocharian and Aliyev expressed optimism about chances of a breakthrough in the stalled peace process. The two men’sounded equally upbeat following their previous meeting in the Swiss city in mid-July.

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