Armenian Azeri FMs to Prepare for Karabagh Summit

YEREVAN (Armenpress/RFE/RL)–Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said on Tuesday that he and his Azeri counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov will hold talks next week to prepare for a meeting of their presidents to discuss the Mountainous Karabagh conflict.

Oskanian said the talks are scheduled to take place in London January 17-18 in the presence of international mediators and will be followed by the Armenian-Azeri summit some time next month. "Its precise date and venue has not been ascertained yet," he told a news conference.

"I think that after those two meetings it will be clearer what developmen’s will occur in the Mountainous Karabagh conflict in 2006," he added–saying the meeting of Presidents Ilham Aliyev and Robert Kocharian will set the tone for the future of the peace talks.

The foreign minister said that a peaceful resolution of the Karabagh conflict was a foreign policy priority for Armenia in 2005–describing that policy as "very flexible."

He stressed that Armenia’seeks international acknowledgment that the population of Karabagh should have the right to self-determination and the conflict can be settled on these grounds. He said Azerbaijan’s acknowledgment of this would facilitate a settlement of the conflict.

Addressing members of Azerbaijan’s Security Council last week–Aliyev expressed hope that this year will see a resolution of the Karabagh dispute.

Karabagh will also be high on the agenda of an upcoming visit to the region by the new chairman-in-office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)–Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht. Oskanian said he will be in Yerevan on January 24.

The OSCE is expected to present proposals for deploying international peacekeeping troops in the conflict zone.

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