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Russia to Host Fresh Karabakh Talks


Russia -- President Dmitry Medvedev (R) meeting with Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan Serzh Sarkisian (L) and Ilham Aliyev in St. Petersburg, 17Jun2010

Russia -- President Dmitry Medvedev (R) meeting with Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan Serzh Sarkisian (L) and Ilham Aliyev in St. Petersburg, 17Jun2010

The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan are scheduled to hold another meeting to be hosted by their Russian counterpart next week amid intensified armed clashes around the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.


The Armenian president’s press office said on Friday that Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev will “continue their negotiations over a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict” during their meeting hosted by Dmitry Medvedev, in the southern Russian city of Astrakhan on October 27. No other details of the planned meeting were reported yet.

Such a trilateral meeting will be the first after Medvedev paid visits to Armenia and Azerbaijan earlier this year.

In late August, as part of Medvedev’s visit to Yerevan, Armenia and Russia signed a deal extending the lease of the Russian military base stationed in Gyumri until 2044.

The upgraded defense pact also committed Moscow to supplying its South Caucasus ally with “modern and compatible weaponry and special military hardware” and, jointly with the armed forces of Armenia, ensuring the security of the latter’s borders.

The move has been widely viewed by local politicians and pundits as a means to curb the growing war rhetoric in neighboring Azerbaijan and discourage its political and military leaders from committing aggression.

Medvedev traveled to Azerbaijan in September where energy-related issues dominated the agenda of negotiations between the two oil- and gas-rich countries.

The Russian leader also reportedly sought to reassure his counterpart in Baku that his country’s new military agreement with Armenia posed no security threat to Azerbaijan.

The last time Medvedev hosted a meeting between Sarkisian and Aliyev was on June 17. Within just over 24 hours after that meeting a major ceasefire violation occurred on the line of contact of Azeri and Karabakh-Armenian armed forces, with four Armenian and one Azerbaijani soldiers reportedly killed in the firefight.

The situation around Karabakh has remained volatile since that incident, with skirmishes reported virtually every day. Both sides have suffered more than a dozen confirmed military casualties in recent months.

Russia, which is one of the three co-chairing nations, along with the United States and France, in the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which spearheads international efforts on resolving the protracted conflict over Karabakh, has called on the side to maintain calm and continue their efforts to achieve a negotiated peace.

Three months after the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia, Medvedev hosted a Sarkisian-Aliyev meeting near Moscow during which the sides put their signatures to the first-ever document -- even though a nonbinding one -- since the 1994 ceasefire agreement, reaffirming their shared commitment to seeking a political solution to the conflict.

Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have since repeatedly accused each other of torpedoing the negotiations and trying to scuttle international efforts to broker a lasting peace in Karabakh.
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