Armenia and Azerbaijan officially confirmed on Wednesday that their leaders will meet in Vienna on Friday for further talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The foreign ministers of the two countries said the meeting of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and President Ilham Aliyev is initiated by the U.S., Russian and French mediators co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group.
The mediators discussed preparations for the summit with Pashinian and Aliyev when they visited Yerevan and Baku last month.
Aliyev and Pashinian most recently met on January 22 on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. They also talked during the summits of former Soviet republics held in September and December.
The Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers have similarly held a series of lengthy negotiations in the past several months, fuelling more speculation about major progress towards a resolution of the Karabakh conflict.
Pashinian sought to lower expectations from the Vienna talks when he spoke in the Armenian parliament on Wednesday. “We just need to exchange thoughts on various issues,” he said.
Pashinian also made clear that he will continue to insist on Karabakh’s direct involvement in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks. He has repeatedly stated that he does not have a mandate to negotiate on behalf of the Karabakh Armenians.
Aliyev denounced those statements on March 14 as an “attempt to block the negotiations process.” Pashinian countered a few days later that his insistence on Karabakh becoming a third negotiating party is “not a precondition.”