Sahakian Urges Minsk Group to Include Karabakh in Talks

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–A team of U.S., Russian and French mediators traveled to Stepanakert Saturday for talks with Karabakh President Bako Sahakian as part of yet another regional tour aimed at speeding up a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Sahakian’s meeting with the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group lasted for three hours, his press office said.

In the talks, Sahakian reiterated that no “comprehensive settlement” to the conflict can be reached without the restoration of Karabakh’s right to participate in peace talks as a full-fledged party to the conflict.

He also stressed the dangers associated with the heightening war rhetoric coming from Azerbaijan, adding that the anti-Armenian and militaristic statemen’s are one of the main obstacles to a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

The Co-Chairs, for their part, said no resolution to the conflict is possible without the consent and participation of Nagorno Karabakh and its people.

“We discussed concrete issues on concrete projects,” Yuri Merzlyakov of Russia told RFE/RL after the talks. “I therefore think that the time that we spent together was not in vain.” He declined to give details.

The Minsk Group mediators were in Armenia on Monday for similar talks with Armenian leaders in Yerevan.

Meeting with President Serzh Sarkisian, the tree discussed the current state of the peace process and, in particular, the results of his recent meeting in Zurich with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev. According to the Armenian presidential press service, they briefed Sarkisian on their talks with Aliyev in Baku late last week.

A statement by the service cited Sarkisian as criticizing “statemen’s contradicting the logic of the negotiating process.” It did not elaborate.

The mediators also met Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian both before and after the talks with Sarkisian. An Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Tigran Balayan, said Nalbandian welcomed their recent statement which stressed that the Karabakh disputed can not be settled by force.

In that statement issued on February 19, the co-chairs also said that they will visit the conflict zone to “help the parties to accelerate their efforts to finalize the Basic Principles” of a Karabakh settlement proposed by them.

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