US Endorses Russian Sponsored Karabakh Talks

WASHINGTON–The US Department of State Wednesday endorsed a highly anticipated summit, organized by Russia, between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The meeting, which will take place in Russia on Sunday, is being touted by international mediators as potentially decisive in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict negotiations process.

"We are pleased by this initiative that Moscow is undertaking. We hope that the initiative succeeds. We are monitoring it very closely," U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev publicly offered to host more face-to-face talks between Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev during an official visit to Yerevan on October 21. The Karabakh conflict was reportedly high on the agenda of the trip. Medvedev also discussed it in a phone call with Aliyev the next day.

The American, French and Russian co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, mediating the Karabakh conflict, have been pressing the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to and iron out their remaining differences on a framework peace accord proposed by them last year in Madrid. All three co-chair countries have expressed hope that Aliyev and Sarkisian will reach agreement before the end of the year on the basic principles proposed to a resolution proposed in Madrid.

The Minsk Group co-chairs 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.

“We have been working long towards the solution of that issue,” McCormik said. “The OSCE Minsk Group has been functioning for many years. We hope that this initiative will succeed. We are closely watching it,” McCormack said.

Sarkisian said at the weekend that the Karabakh dispute can be resolved only if Azerbaijan recognizes the Karabakh Armenia’s’ “right to self-determination.” But Aliev insisted on Friday that Baku will never accept Karabakh’s secession from Azerbaijan.

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