Aliyev Expresses Confidence Karabakh Conflict Can Be Resolved

(Combined Sources)–In an announcement made following lunch with French President Jacques Chirac on January 24–Azeri President Heydar Aliyev expressed confidence that a peaceful solution can be found regarding the Karabakh conflict.

"We have discussed several variations and versions–and we will continue the discussions in hopes to reach a conclusion," Aliev said without elaborating.

Chirac called for a "balanced" solution–"that is–acceptable to both parties."

Aliev and Armenian President Robert Kocharian are to meet Friday in Strasbourg–during ceremonies formally admitting their countries to the Council of Europe–headquartered in the eastern French city.

Aliev was not pleased by the French Parliament’s decision last week–to formally recognize the 1915 genocide of the Armenia’s by Ottoman Turkey–transmitting his "firm criticism" to Chirac. Turkey and Azerbaijan share close ethnic and cultural bonds.

"I perfectly understood this criticism," Chirac said–but he added that it would not sour French relations with Azerbaijan.

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