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Azerbaijan and Armenia are close to a deal to end the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, Russia said on Thursday, two decades after fighting broke out in one of the bloodiest conflicts of the former Soviet Union.

(Reuters) - Azerbaijan and Armenia are close to a deal to end the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, Russia said on Thursday, two decades after fighting broke out in one of the bloodiest conflicts of the former Soviet Union.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko told reporters that if the current pace of talks was sustained, a peace deal would be ready soon.

"If the positive pace achieved in the negotiating process... is continued next year, then we can count on a rather swift final agreement of the basic principles for resolution (of the conflict) and the working out of the text for a peace agreement," he told reporters.

Russia is one of the three main international mediators in the peace talks, which are led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) Minsk group.

Tensions over the disputed region have been rising in recent months, with Azerbaijan angry at a deal between Turkey and Armenia to open their border, 16 years after Ankara closed it in solidarity with Azerbaijan during the war. Turkey says it will go through with its deal with Armenia only if the latter makes concessions on Nagorno-Karabakh.
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