Armenian, Azeri, Turkish Leaders to Meet in Prague

aliyev-sarkisian-gulISTANBUL (Hurriyet)–The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan will hold separate meetings with their Turkish counterpart Thursday on the sidelines of a European summit in the Czech capital Prague.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul will meet Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian in Prague, where the leaders are scheduled to attend an Eastern Partnership summit, the Anatolian News Agency reported quoting unnamed diplomatic sources.

The meetings come as diplomatic traffic intensifies in US-backed efforts aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey and resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will also meet Aliyev in the Azeri capital Baku on May 13 and Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on May 16.

Turkey and Armenia, under Switzerland’s mediation, agreed last month on a “road map” deal for U.S.-backed talks that could lead to the normalizing of ties and the opening of their border.

The newly appointed Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met Azerbaijan’s deputy foreign minister, Araz Azimov, on Monday to discuss Azeri concerns over the roadmap.

Baku says opening the border before a resolution to the Karabakh conflict would run counter to its national interests. Some media reports have suggested that Azerbaijan, a supplier of oil and gas to Europe, might even halt the sale of natural gas to Turkey.

The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan were in Washington on Tuesday for separate talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Neither official made public statements after the meeting. A spokesman for the State Department, Robert Wood, indicated that it was dominated by the Karabakh peace process and Turkish-Armenian relations.

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