Minsk Group Seeking Another Karabakh Summit

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NEW YORK (Combined Sources)–International mediators said over the weekend that they will visit Armenia and Azerbaijan soon to prepare for the next meeting of the two countries’ presidents which they hope will pave the way for a framework peace accord on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The American, French and Russian diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group met in Washington on Thursday to discuss details of their upcoming trip both amongst themselves and with two senior U.S. administration officials dealing with the South Caucasus.

“The Co-Chairs met with Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Senior Director for European Affairs at the National Security Council and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Tina Kaidanow,” they said in a joint statement issued on Saturday.

The three mediators also held separate talks with the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers in New York the next day. “The two foreign ministers and the Co-Chairs reaffirmed a commitment to negotiations based on the Basic Principles [of Karabakh peace,] and discussed upcoming travel of the Co-Chairs to the region in early October,” the statement said.

“As agreed in Moscow July 18, the Co-Chairs will travel to Armenia and Azerbaijan to prepare for a proposed meeting between President Aliyev and President Sarkisian in Chisinau on the margins of the CIS Summit,” added the statement. The summit of former Soviet republics is scheduled for October 8-9.

“At this important moment in the negotiating process, the Co-Chairs called on both sides to be constructive in their public statements,” the statement said, referring to recent bellicose rhetoric from Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry.

The mediators hope that Aliyev and Sarkisian will iron out their remaining differences over the settlement principles proposed by them. The two leaders failed to do so at their last face-to-face meeting held in Moscow in July. In an early August interview with RFE/RL, the Minsk Group’s outgoing U.S. co-chair, Matthew Bryza, insisted that they agree on the “fundamental concept” behind the proposed settlement and are “coming close” to working out its important details.

Still, Sarkisian sought to lower expectations of an impending breakthrough in the Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations when he addressed Armenia’s top diplomats on September 1. The resolution of the Karabakh dispute, he said, is “not a matter of days, weeks or months.”

As agreed in Moscow July 18, the Co-Chairs will travel to Armenia and Azerbaijan to prepare for a proposed meeting between President Aliyev and President Sargsian in Chisinau on the margins of the CIS Summit.

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