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Kerry, Lavrov Keen To Bolster Karabakh Truce


Russia -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) greets US Secretary of State John Kerry during a meeting in Moscow, March 24, 2016

Russia -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) greets US Secretary of State John Kerry during a meeting in Moscow, March 24, 2016

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will try to cement the shaky ceasefire around Nagorno-Karabakh when they co-host talks between Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s presidents in Vienna late on Monday, a U.S. diplomat said.

James Warlick, the U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, confirmed that Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev will meet there in the presence of Kerry, Lavrov and Harlem Desir, France’s secretary of state for European affairs. The meeting will come more than one month after a dramatic escalation of the Karabakh conflict.

Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) shortly before the summit, Warlick said Kerry, Lavrov and Desir will seek “assurances” from Aliyev and Sarkisian that their nations will continue to abide by a Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped a full-scale Armenian-Azerbaijani war in 1994. That, he said, will be the main purpose of the meeting.

The U.S., Russian and French ministers will also discuss with Aliyev and Sarkisian specific “stabilization measures” that would ease tensions and prevent another flare-up of violence, added the U.S. diplomat.

In a statement last week, Warlick and his fellow Minsk Group co-chairs representing Russia and France said the Vienna talks are meant to “reinforce the ceasefire regime, and to seek agreement on confidence-building measures that would create favorable conditions for resuming negotiations on a comprehensive settlement.”

“There can be no success in negotiations if violence continues, and there can be no peace without a negotiation process,” they stressed.

Warlick likewise said on Monday that respecting the ceasefire is critical for reviving the stalled Karabakh peace process. “We are hoping for a very positive discussion,” he said.

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