The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan are ready to meet later this year in another attempt to revive the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, international mediators said on Thursday as they ended their latest tour of the conflict zone.
The U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group issued a joint statement in Baku after holding talks there with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. They met with President Serzh Sarkisian in Yerevan earlier this week.
“We welcomed the readiness of the Presidents to meet each other later this year, and they instructed their Foreign Ministers to continue their work with the Co-Chairs on an agenda for the presidential summit,” read the statement.
The mediators said they discussed with Aliyev and Sarkisian “current proposals to advance negotiations towards a lasting settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.” They also expressed concern at rising tensions along the “line of contact” around Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border following a “period of relative stability” observed there earlier this year.
“We urged the Presidents to avoid a deadly escalation of violence and take all measures to adhere strictly to the ceasefire,” added the troika.
Sarkisian and Aliyev most recently met in Paris in October last year. Both leaders gave positive assessments of that summit.
However, tensions on the frontlines were reignited in November by the shooting down by Azerbaijani forces of an Armenian combat helicopter near Karabakh. And there was a renewed upsurge in deadly truce violations in January.