OSCE Makes New Effort to Settle Karabakh Conflict

BAKU (Reuters–Reuters)–International negotiators promised Tuesday to increase efforts to help settle a long-running conflict between ethnic Armenian separatists and Azeri forces over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

French–Russian and US negotiators who make up the Minsk group of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) held talks with Azeri President Haydar Aliyev on their first visit to Baku together for around a year.

"We intend to work with you intensively and it certainly will not be 13 months before you see the three of us again," US representative Carey Cavanaugh said.

"Our mission is two-fold – to begin work on a new proposal and to look more intensively at the need for economic reconstruction of the region," Cavanaugh said.

Azerbaijan said Monday it was ready to continue talks on settling the Karabakh conflict–said Azeri Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliev Tuesday on behalf of his country at a meeting in Baku with the Russian–American and French co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group–the Itar-Tass news agency reported.

According to the minister–his country has been "championing" a peaceful resolution for the conflict in the belief that a reliable basis has been created for resumption of the negotiation process in the framework of the Minsk Group.

The minister claimed that well-known decisions by the Budapest–Lisbon and Istanbul summits of the OSCE are its basis. In Guliev’s opinion–direct dialogue between Armenian and Azerbaijan presidents Robert Kocharian and Haydar Aliyev cannot replace talks in the framework of the Minsk Group which can find–as he is convinced–a decision suitable for the two sides.

The US co-chairman of the Minsk Group Carey Cavanaugh said he intends–together with Russian and French colleagues Nikolai Gribkov and Jean-Jacques Gaillard–to do his utmost to speed up the peace process.

This must be done for the sake of refugees who have suffered during the conflict–he said on Tuesday at a meeting in the Azeri Foreign Ministry.

Judging by his words–the problem of refugees and restoration of Azerbaijan’s destroyed areas will be the main issues at the talks of the OSCE team in Baku.

The delegation which arrived in Baku Monday evening after a visit to Yerevan and Nagorno-Karabakh–on Tuesday morning visited Barda–a city in central Azerbaijan–where camps of refugees are situated. They have been living in the open steppe for nearly six years.

Representatives from the World Bank and the High Commissioner for Refugees accompanied the co-chairmen of the Minsk Group during their tour of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

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