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France to Host Armenia-Azerbaijan Talks on February 10

The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet in Paris on February 10 at the invitation of French President Jacques Chirac to seek ways to resolve a long-standing dispute over the territory of
Nagorno Karabakh, Armenian officials said here Tuesday

“We are optimistic” about the talks, said Viktor Sogomonyan, spokesman for Armenian President Robert Kocharyan, as he announced the date of the meeting.

The invitation from Chirac was announced during talks last Friday in London between the foreign ministers of the two ex-Soviet republics.

Armenia and Azerbaijan remain in a tense military standoff over Nagorno Karabakh and have held years of fruitless negotiations under the mediation of the Minsk group, made up of France, Russia and the United States.

Nagorno Karabakh is a mountainous territory located inside the borders of Azerbaijan but inhabited mainly by ethnic Armenians.

Armenian and Azerbaijani forces fought for control of the territory from 1988 to 1994. The conflict left around 25,000 people dead — estimates vary widely, depending on the source — and led to the displacement of hundreds of
thousands of people, most of them ethnic Azeris.

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