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Mediator Calls Armenian-Azeri Summit ‘Very Positive’

By Aza Babayan in Moscow

International mediators seeking a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are satisfied with the results of the latest meeting between the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents, a senior Russian diplomat told RFE/RL on Friday.

Yuri Merzlyakov, the Russian co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, indicated that the conflicting parties moved closer to peaceful settlement as a result of the talks held last Saturday on the sidelines of a Commonwealth of Independent States summit in the Russian city of Kazan.

“The meeting was very positive and took place in a very constructive atmosphere,” Merzlyakov said. “You can see that from the reaction of the presidents. So the co-chairs are satisfied with the way the discussion took place.”

Presidents Ilham Aliev and Robert Kocharian met in Kazan amid unusually high expectations fueled by the Minsk Group’s Russian, U.S. and French co-chairs. The meeting came after reports that the parties have already agreed on some key points of a Karabakh peace accord.

But officials in Baku and Yerevan have been very cautious in their assessments of the talks, saying that the parties have yet to achieve a breakthrough. According to Merzlyakov, they still need to reach agreement “on a number of details” before being able to sign documents. He refused to disclose those details.

It is widely assumed that Aliev and Kocharian will not sign or even announce any compromise agreements on Karabakh before the November parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan and constitutional referendum in Armenia. Unpopular concessions could significantly strengthen opposition groups in both countries that are plotting fresh attempts to topple the ruling regimes in Baku and Yerevan.

Merzlyakov said that the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers may well hold another meeting before the November polls.

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