The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan are due to meet again next month for more talks on the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, a senior U.S. diplomat said on Tuesday.
“I understand that there will be a meeting in France at some point in October, late October. I don’t know the date,” John Heffern, the U.S. ambassador to Armenia, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). The meeting will be hosted by French President Francois Hollande, he said.
Hollande held separate talks with Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Wales last week. Sarkisian and Aliyev went on to hold a trilateral face-to-face meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry there. No concrete agreements were announced afterwards.
According to a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, Kerry urged the conflicting parties to “strictly respect the ceasefire and take additional steps to prepare their publics for peace.” He also called on them to “enter into a more formal negotiation process.”
Heffern described the Wales meeting was “an important opportunity for Secretary Kerry to become personally involved in the negotiations and he appreciated that opportunity.” The envoy also insisted that the U.S., French and Russian diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group do not plan to present the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders with a new peace plan.
“The co-chairs at this point are not proposing a lot of new things. The outlines of a deal are clear … The goal is to get the parties together to find a way to sit down in a systematic way, try to find ways to resolve the conflict,” Heffern said.
Aliyev and Sarkisian also met in the Russian city of Sochi on August 10 after a sharp escalation of deadly fighting along “the line of contact” around Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Ceasefire violations there have decreased dramatically since those talks mediated by Russian President Vladimir Putin.