Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev on Monday held their third meeting in less than three months to discuss ways of settling the protracted conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.
The negotiations between the two South Caucasus leaders took place in Paris upon the initiative of French President Francois Hallande.
The United States, Russian and French co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group, Ambassadors James Warlick, Igor Popov and Pierre Andrieu, were also in the French capital to meet with Sarkisian and Aliyev.
The international mediators joined the two presidents after their eye-to-eye meeting, reports said.
Summarizing the results of the talks, a statement issued by the Armenian president’s press office said that the participants of the meeting “placed importance on the continuation of dialogue within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group and efforts to strengthen confidence” in order to achieve progress in the peace talks.
“The absence of an alternative to a peaceful settlement of the conflict was emphasized. Agreement was reached between the parties to continue negotiations at the high level,” it added.
Sarkisian and Aliyev held separate meetings with Hollande earlier on Monday.
At his meeting with the French president, the Armenian head of state, as quoted by his press service, said that Yerevan remained committed to finding a negotiated peace to the Karabakh conflict and highly appreciated the efforts of the international mediators aimed at “promoting the negotiation process, establishing permanent peace and stability in the region.”
Hollande also held a meeting with both presidents in the evening.
France, along with the United States and Russia, has for two decades spearheaded international efforts on brokering a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Hollande initiated the Paris talks still during his May tour of the South Caucasus that included stops in Baku and Yerevan.
In August, Armenia and Azerbaijan again appeared to be teetering on the edge of renewed hostilities after an unprecedented escalation of violence at the Line of Contact in Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border proper.
The sides blamed each other for skirmishes and commando raids in which at least two dozen servicemen were killed. The ethnic Armenian military authorities in Karabakh and the Defense Ministry of Armenia claimed they had managed to give a due rebuttal to Azerbaijani forces.
De-escalation did not happen, however, until the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents were summoned for a tripartite meeting hosted by their Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Sochi on August 10.
Sarkisian and Aliyev met also a month later on the margins of a NATO summit in Newport, Wales, UK. That meeting was organized by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.