Oskanian Sees More Progress in Karabagh Talks

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian added to renewed hopes for a breakthrough in the Mountainous Karabagh peace process on Monday–saying that he and his Azeri counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov made further progress at a meeting in Paris on Friday.

Oskanian described the talks mediated by US–Russian and French negotiators as "positive" and "constructive."We have not yet managed to bring that issue to a successful resolution," he told reporters. "But common ground is in sight."

Oskanian added that he will hold another round of negotiations with Mammadyarov shortly after the mediators’ visit to the region scheduled for mid-July.

Azeri officials also appeared satisfied with the outcome of Mammadyarov’s and Oskanian’s first face-to-face encounter in months. "The pace of meetings and the essence of the discussions–in my opinion–are promising," Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov told the Azeri ANS television at the weekend.

The two ministers were expected to try to build on understandings reportedly reached by the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan at a meeting on Warsaw on May 15. The Armenian Foreign Ministry referred to the summit as a "yet another step forward in the resolution of the Mountainous-Karabagh conflict."

Oskanian cautioned that while the Paris talks proceeded in a "good atmosphere," he and Mammadyarov failed to live up to the presidents’ expectations. "The presidents took a step forward–albeit a small one–and instructed us to build upon that and find some solution," he said. "We failed to do that in Paris."

The current phase of Karabagh peace talks is part of what the parties and the mediators call "the Prague process" that began a year ago and raised fresh hopes for long-awaited peace.

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