Karabakh Mediators Set to Resume Shuttle Diplomacy

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–International mediators plan to visit Armenia and Azerbaijan next week to keep up the momentum in their efforts to broker a framework peace agreement on Nagorno-Karabakh before the end of this year.

“The elections are over and I think we can continue to work on the points of interest to us,” the group’s French co-chair, Bernard Fassier told the Azerbaijani APA news agency on Tuesday. “For that reason the Minsk Group co-chairs plan to visit the region next week. But I can not yet give the precise date of the visit.”

The Armenian Foreign Ministry did not confirm the information, with a spokesman’saying that no dates have been agreed for the co-chairs’ trip yet.

Fassier’s remarks came as Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev held a phone conversation Wednesday to discuss the logistics behind holding a new Armenian-Azeri summit on Karabakh in Russia, the Kremlins press office reported.

Russia on Tuesday indicated its desire to take the initiative in the Karabakh peace process when its President Dmitry Medvedev publicly expressed hope that the next Armenian-Azerbaijani summit will take place in his country and in his presence “very soon.”

Official Baku on Tuesday seemed to welcome the possibility of Russia hosting a future Armenian-Azeri summit on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, with Azeri Presidential advisor Novruz Mammadov telling Trend.az that "trilateral talks took place earlier and it is possible to hold a new meeting.”

“I hope that we are at an advanced stage,” Medvedev said during a joint press conference with Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian Tuesday, commenting on the current state of the Karabakh peace process.

“I hope that the three presidents will meet very soon to continue discussions on this theme,” he said. “I hope that the meeting will take place in Russia.”

“This is a very interesting idea, but we need to discuss everything,” Fassier said, commenting on the Medvedev’s remarks in Yerevan.

The U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the OSCE’s Minsk Group met with the two countries’ foreign ministers in New York less than a month ago. The talks reportedly focused on the possibility of holding another meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents shortly after Azerbaijan’s October 15 presidential election.

The mediators hope that President Sarkisian and his reelected Azerbaijani counterpart, Aliev, will bridge their differences on the basic principles of a Karabakh settlement that were formally proposed by mediating troika in November last year. Russian Foreign Sergey Lavrov said earlier this month that Aliev and Sarkisian need to work out “two or three unresolved issues,” notably the future of the Lachin corridor linking Armenia to Karabakh.

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