Cem to Meet Oskanian Aliyev

ANKARA (Reuters)–Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem said on Tuesday he would meet Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian and Azeri President Haydar Aliyev later this month to seek an end to a long-standing territorial dispute.

Turkey initiated new talks between the Caucasus rivals on the sidelines of a NATO summit last month in a bid to settle their conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh–a mostly ethnic Armenian enclave inside the borders of Azerbaijan.

"Quite contrary to my expectations–that meeting was very agreeable and substantive. I was not expecting that," Cem told reporters.

"We’re going to have another meeting in Istanbul with both Armenia’s foreign minister and–if he finds it appropriate and has time–Azeri President Aliyev," he said–adding Turkey saw itself as a "facilitator" in resolving the stand-off.

Aliyev and Oskanian are expected to attend a meeting of Black Sea nations in Istanbul on June 25.

Turkey has close ethnic and cultural ties with Azerbaijan–but tensions regularly flare in relations with Armenia.

Turkey has fought hard to block international attempts to recognize as genocide the killing of Armenia’s by Ottoman Turks during World War I.

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