No Breakthrough at Kocharian-Aliyev Summit

YEREVAN (Yerkir)–President Robert Kocharian and his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev met Saturday in St. Petersburg to discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution, but failed to reach agreement, according to Armenia’s Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian.
He said, the negotiation process would continue on the level of foreign ministers. Oskanian added, “it is difficult to say if one more meeting between Kocharian and Aliyev is possible till the end of the year.”
A Russian channel quoted Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian as saying: “A serious discussion has taken place in St. Petersburg but no agreement has been reached.”
“The two sides have presented their positions. I can’t say progress has been made on these positions,” Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammedyarov said in commen’s broadcast on Armenian Public Television on Sunday.
The talks lasted about three hours, the stations said. “The sides were offered new, alternative ways of resolving the conflict, they will be discussed,” Bernard Fassier, a mediator from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, was quoted as saying. “The negotiations will continue.”
The press services of both presidents were unavailable for comment. An Armenian foreign ministry spokesman’said he had no information on the talks.
“I do not know what the substance of the talks was. We hope to receive some information later on but I had an impression that the two leaders emerged from the talks content,” a source in the Russian delegation at the informal CIS summit of ex-Soviet states told Reuters.
Earlier, OSCE negotiators said that despite the lack of agreement on Karabakh’s status there was still a possibility of step-by-step moves to ease the crisis.
In a televised interview with an Armenian TV channel Vartan Oskanian said the parties failed to reach agreement on a number of sticking points.
"No progress was made in Saint Petersburg, but though the differences are still there, during their first meeting this year both presidents had a deep discussion over the basic principles. The meeting also helped to further specify the sides’ positions on a set of issues," Oskanian said.
Asked to comment on speculations that if the sides fail to make a breakthrough before the end of this year they will have to start from scratch in 2008, Oskanian said he did not like radical approaches, saying the negotiations are going on the level of foreign ministers.

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