YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan look set to hold soon yet another round of face-to-face negotiations which international mediators hope will remove the remaining obstacles to a framework peace agreement for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The foreign ministers of the two nations discussed the possibility of such a meeting during six-hour talks in Paris on Friday. The U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group were also in attendance.
“The meeting of the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan held in Paris was useful and took place in a constructive atmosphere,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. It was decided that the Minsk Group co-chairs will again visit the conflict zone “in the first half of July,” said the statement.
“We coordinated our approaches to resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and continued to prepare the next meeting of [Presidents] Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sarkisian,” the Azerbaijani Trend news agency quoted the U.S. co-chair, Matthew Bryza, as saying after the talks. He said that meeting could take place in Moscow in July.
In an interview with the Reuters news agency last week, Bryza said the mediators hope that Aliyev and Sarkisian will bridge their remaining differences over the basic principles of a Karabakh settlement proposed by the mediators. “We hope that if they meet in the middle of July, they will have agreed conceptually on all the elements of these basic principles,” he said.
He said the parties would then go line by line through the three-and-a-half pages of text to agree on the details. “Once that happens, which we the co-chairs are shooting for by the end of the year, then we could say, it would be true, that a framework agreement has been reached,” added Bryza.
In a joint statement issued earlier this month, the co-chairs said Aliyev and Sarkisian “narrowed the differences between the two countries on a number of the Basic Principles” at their last meeting held in Saint Petersburg, Russia on June 4. They did not give any details, sticking to the confidentiality of the protracted peace process.