Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said on Tuesday that the U.S., Russian and French mediators have urged him and his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian to hold more talks on Nagorno-Karabakh next week.
Azerbaijani news agencies quoted Mammadyarov as saying that the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group are trying to arrange their meeting on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit to be held in The Hague on March 24-25.
Dozens of world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, are due to take part in the summit. It is not yet clear whether Presidents Serzh Sarkisian of Armenia and Ilham Aliyev Azerbaijan will also be in attendance.
James Warlick, the Minsk Group’s U.S. co-chair, said on March 10 that he and the fellow mediators from Russia and France hope that Aliyev and Sarkisian “will meet this month.” The troika stressed “the need for further talks at the highest level to advance the peace process” in a joint statement that was issued on March 13 after separate consultations held with Mammadyarov and Nalbandian. But it announced no agreements on the summit’s date and agenda.
The mediators hoped that the two presidents will meet in February and try to build on some progress which they appeared to have made at their last encounter in November. However, the fresh Armenian-Azerbaijan summit was effectively disrupted by an upsurge in ceasefire violations in the conflict zone reported in late January.
Although skirmishes on “the line of contact” around Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border have since subsided, they continue to claim lives. The Azerbaijani military said late on Monday one of its soldiers was shot dead by Armenian forces deployed southeast of Karabakh. Like other Azerbaijani servicemen killed in recent months, the 20-year-old Elvin Hasanov was posthumously awarded a medal.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry has acknowledged five combat deaths among its troops since the beginning of this year. At least two Armenian soldiers are known to have been killed in action during the same period.
There have been suggestions that Russia’s deepening confrontation with the West over the crisis in Ukraine could further complicate the protracted search for a Karabakh settlement. Warlick seemingly sought to allay such fears on Sunday. “While the US cannot accept Russia’s actions in Ukraine, there are areas where can continue to work together - peace in Nagorno-Karabakh,” the American diplomat wrote on Twitter.