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Mediators Again Visit Karabakh


Nagorno-Karabakh -- Bako Sahakian, the Karabakh president, meets with the U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Stepanakert, October 16, 2019.

U.S., Russian and French mediators met with Nagorno-Karabakh’s leaders in Stepanakert on Wednesday during their latest tour of the Karabakh conflict zone.

The three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group began a fresh round of regional shuttle diplomacy on Tuesday with talks held with Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian in Yerevan.

An Armenian government statement said Pashinian and the mediators agreed on the importance of strengthening the ceasefire along the Karabakh “line of contact” and Armenian-Azerbaijani border. It said they also discussed efforts to “prepare the peoples for peace.” No further details were reported.

The press office of Bako Sahakian, the Karabakh president, also gave very few details of his meeting with U.S. diplomat Andrew Schofer, Russia’s Igor Popov and France’s Stephane Visconti. It said that Sahakian again called for Karabakh’s direct involvement in Armenian-Azerbaijani talks.

Incidentally, Sahakian and Pashinian met in Yerevan on Tuesday.

Popov told reporters in Stepanakert that the mediators discussed with Sahakian confidence-building measures favored by them. “In particular, we addressed mutual visits by journalists and the issue of persons imprisoned by the two sides,” he said, according to the Artsakhpress news agency. “In this regard, we have a number of ideas on which we are continuing to work.”

Popov also said that Mnatsakanian and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov may hold fresh talks in December.

The two ministers most recently met in New York last month in the presence of the Minsk Group co-chairs. In a joint statement, the latter said they “continued their discussion of additional measures to reduce tensions and sustain an atmosphere conducive to peace and favorable to substantive talks.” They gave no indications of any progress towards a Karabakh settlement.

Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev publicly traded barbs when they attended a summit of former Soviet republics in Turkmenistan on October 1. Still, they reportedly talked to each other at great length at an official dinner hosted by Turkmen President Gurbaguly Berdymuhamedov.

Aliyev and Pashinian held five face-to-face meetings between September 2018 and May 2019.

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