YEREVAN/BAKU, June 10 (Reuters) - Azeri and Armenian leaders failed to reach agreement on the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh enclave at talks in Russia, local television channels reported.
Azeri President Ilham Aliev and Armenian President Robert Kocharian, a former Karabakh leader, met on Saturday during a CIS summit in St Petersburg where they broached the issue of the region’s status.
“The two sides have presented their positions. I can’t say progress has been made on these positions,” Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mamediarov said in comments broadcast on Armenian Public Television on Sunday.
The channel also quoted Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian as saying: “A serious discussion has taken place in St. Petersburg but no agreement has been reached.”
Karabakh, a predominantly Armenian region of Azerbaijan, broke away in the late 1980s, triggering a war between separatists and the Azeri state between 1992 and 1994. More than 35,000 people were killed.
Since the war, the enclave and lands around it have been controlled by a separatist army, backed by Armenian volunteers.
The talks lasted about three hours, the stations said. “The sides were offered new, alternative ways of resolving the conflict, they will be discussed,” Bernard Fassier, a mediator from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), was quoted as saying. “The negotiations will continue.”
The press services of both presidents were unavailable for comment. An Armenian foreign ministry spokesman said he had no information on the talks.
“I do not know what the substance of the talks was. We hope to receive some information later on but I had an impression that the two leaders emerged from the talks content,” a source in the Russian delegation at the informal CIS summit of ex-Soviet states told Reuters.
Earlier, OSCE negotiators said that despite the lack of agreement on Karabakh’s status there was still a possibility of step-by-step moves to ease the crisis.
(Additional reporting by Oleg Shchedrov in St. Petersburg)