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OSCE reps to hold talks in Baku on settling Karabakh conflict


Baku, (ITAR-TASS). Co-chairmen of the Minsk Group, set up by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for settling the dragged-out ethnic conflict in Nagorny Karabakh, are holding talks with top-rank Azerbaijani officials here Thursday.

The OSCE representatives - Yuri Merzlyakov of Russia, Steven Mann of the U.S., and Henri Jacolin of France - are expected to meet with President Ilham Aliyev and Foreign Minister Elmar Mamedyarov.

Politicians in Baku do not expect any special proposals from the three men on how to settle the conflict between the ethnic Azerbaijanis and Armenians in and around Nagorny Karabakh that has been smoldering since the end of the 1980's, but Minister Mamedyarov does not rule out that new ideas about stepping up the talks may come up in the process of discussions.

"The absence of new proposals doesn't mean that the negotiations have deadlocked, all the more so that the contours of the new ideas, which we have discussed with the Armenian side, are getting clear," he said.

As the three co-chairmen of the Minsk Group addressed a news conference in Yerevan Wednesday, they indicated there could hardly be anything new in their proposals now, as resolution of the conflict was highly contingent on the actions on both Azerbaijani and Armenian sides.

"We believe the sides must not waste time away, and actions must be taken right now," said the Russian envoy Yuri Merzlyakov.

"The sides are now working on the agenda of future talks in the light of changes in the situation after elections in Azerbaijan," he said.

Steven ann, a U.S. envoy, said solution of the problem was highly contingent on the stance that Armenia and Azerbaijan would take, and the Minsk Group could only help the sides tap the practical solutions.

Armenia and Azerbaijan will bear the brunt of responsibility for decision-making, and the OSCE leaves it up to them to decide on who should take part in th talks, Mann said.

The French envoy, Henri Jacolin, said the talks would definitely take some time, since one or two meetings would by no means suffice to untangle a conflict like the one in Nagorny Karabakh.
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