Sarkisian Leaves for Stepanakert as Karabakh Negotiators Arrive in Yerevan

YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — President Serzh Sarkisian unexpectedly left for Stepanakert early Friday as International mediators brokering a Nagorno-Karabakh settlement arrived in Yerevan for a series of meetings with Armenian leadership in hopes of building on the recent progress in peace talks.

No official announcement had preceded the president’s departure. Sarkisian is not set to return to Yerevan at least until Saturday afternoon as he was scheduled to take part in a local cultural event unrelated to the Karabakh negotiations. No other details of the Armenian president’s stay in Karabakh have been disclosed.

The United States, Russian and French cochairmen of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group were scheduled to hold a meeting with Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian late on Friday, a Ministry spokesman’said.

The Minsk Group troika including Matthew Bryza, Yuri Merzlyakov and Bernard Fassier arrived in Yerevan from Baku where they held talks with Azerbaijani leadership.

The visiting diplomats are expected to stay in Armenia at least until Monday afternoon when they are scheduled to hold a press conference at the United States embassy in Yerevan.

At some point before that, the mediators are also expected to meet President Serzh Sarkisian, according to information confirmed by the latter’s press officer Samvel Farmanian on Thursday.

In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Monday, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s president Bako Sahakian called for Stepanakert’s immediate role, warning that efforts to achieve an ultimate solution to the protracted conflict will remain unsuccessful until Nagorno-Karabakh returns to the negotiating table as a full party.

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