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By Harry Tamrazian in Prague

Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliev claimed on Friday that he was ready to exchange the Lachin and Meghri corridors with Armenia during negotiations in Paris last year.

Turan news agency quoted him as saying that the agreement on the exchange of the land corridors was reached when Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents met with French President Jacques Chirac in Paris in March of 2001. Aliev made the comments during his meeting with newly appointed French co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Hugues Pernet, in Baku.

"In the process of the negotiations in Paris, a number of agreements were reached: the opening of the Meghri corridor between Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan in exchange for the Lachin corridor between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. It was stated during the discussions that Meghri would be under sovereign control of Azerbaijan, as Lachin corridor under control of Armenia", Aliev said, adding that Chirac strongly supported the deal.

Azerbaijan had previously strongly denied the existence of Paris agreements.

Aliyev claimed that the Armenian side violated those agreements during negotiations in Key West and the peace talks broke down as a result. He blamed Armenia for "misleading the world community and violating the Paris principles."

Turan quoted Aliev as saying that he is ready to resume Nagorno-Karabakh talks "once the Paris principles are restored".
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