Sargis Khandanian, a member of the Civil Contract parliamentary faction who sits on the foreign-relations committee, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that the meeting late on November 7 focused on the latest developments in the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace process, in particular, the two latest summits between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Prague and Sochi in October hosted by European leaders and Russian President Vladimir Putin, respectively.
Khandanian said that except for “some details” the public knows about the talks from public statements made by the Armenian leadership.
“The key message was that nothing has changed in our commitments as the peace agenda remains our main agenda today, and we are moving forward in that direction,” the pro-government lawmaker underscored.
Asked whether a peace deal could be signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan before the end of the year, Khandanian said that “it is our desire” and “Armenia is ready for that.”
“But we understand that it takes two sides to sign a bilateral peace agreement, and Azerbaijan should also aim for that,” he added.
According to Khandanian, border delimitation is one of the issues that needs to be clarified before concluding a peace agreement.
“Because the terms [of the agreement] must be clear so that this agreement can be guaranteed. Therefore, it is difficult to say whether a peace agreement can be signed before the end of the year or not. But it remains unchanged that Armenia intends to do this,” the Armenian lawmaker concluded.
As Pashinian discussed a possible peace deal with Azerbaijan with members of his political team, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan was having a meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov in Washington on Monday.
The two diplomats were later joined by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken who hosted trilateral talks at Blair House, a state guest house across from the White House.
Before proceeding to talks behind closed doors, in his public comments Blinken praised Armenia and Azerbaijan for taking “courageous steps” toward peace.
“What we are seeing now are real steps and courageous steps by both countries to put the past behind and to work toward a durable peace,” Blinken said, adding that the talks would build on earlier discussions at the UN General Assembly in New York and other conversations between officials from Armenia, Azerbaijan and the United States.
“The United States as a friend to both Armenia and Azerbaijan is committed to doing everything that we can to support you in this effort,” the top U.S. diplomat added.
In a statement following the meetings the Armenian Foreign Ministry said that the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan “shared views on the elements of a possible peace treaty and acknowledged that there is a range of issues that still need to be addressed.”
“Both sides reiterated the commitments undertaken by the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in their meetings on October 6 in Prague and October 31 in Sochi. They agreed to expedite their negotiations and organize another meeting in the coming weeks. Both ministers expressed their appreciation to the U.S. side for hosting the peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” the Armenian ministry said.
As Russia finds itself facing growing international isolation for its invasion of Ukraine, the United States and the European Union have stepped up efforts to mediate talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
In a Twitter post on Tuesday, Toivo Klaar, the EU’s special representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia, described the Washington meeting between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers as “important.”
He wrote that “it is encouraging” that the two ministers are engaged “in a substantive process of negotiations for a bilateral peace treaty.”
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a conflict over the mainly Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh region since 1988.
Some 30,000 people were killed in a war in the early 1990s that left ethnic Armenians in control of the former autonomous oblast inside Soviet Azerbaijan as well as several adjacent districts of Azerbaijan proper.
The two sides fought another war in 2020 that lasted six weeks and killed thousands of people on both sides before a Russia-brokered cease-fire, resulting in Armenians losing control over parts of the region and seven adjacent districts.
Under the cease-fire Moscow deployed about 2,000 troops to the region to serve as peacekeepers.