International Mediators Urge for Karabagh Peace

YEREVAN (RFE/RL/Armenpress)–International mediators urged Armenia and Azerbaijan on Thursday to take the final step towards a resolution of the Karabagh conflict–saying that a framework peace accord is now within their reach.

Diplomats from France–Russia–and the United States made the appeal as they wrapped up a joint visit to Baku and Yerevan–which produced agreement on the next Armenian-Azeri summit on Karabagh.

A spokesman for President Robert Kocharian said that the Armenian leader and his Azeri counterpart–Ilham Aliyev–will meet on the sidelines of a summit of Black Sea nations which is scheduled to take place in Romania’s capital Bucharest on June 5.

In a joint statement read out to the media after their talks with Kocharian–US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried–Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and a top French diplomat–Pierre Morel–said that "now is the time for the sides to reach agreement on the basic principles of a settlement." The three men accompanied the American–French–and Russian diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group on their latest trip to the region.

The statement said that the Karabagh conflict "can be resolved in no other way than a peaceful one. Both countries should prepare their publics for peace and not for war."

"A joint mission such as this one is a special event," Fried–Karasin–and Morel said in their statement. "It must be taken as a sign of the seriousness with which we approach the issue and–in particular–a belief that we are at the point where a mutually beneficial agreement is achievable. What happens now will up be up to Armenia and Azerbaijan."

The three officials described as "constructive" their meetings with Kocharian and Aliyev–which took place on Thursday and Wednesday respectively. But they did not divulge any details of the talks.

The representatives will now return to their capitals and brief their leaders about the developmen’s. The OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs will then report the results to the OSCE and international community.

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