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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Armenian, Azeri Presidents Commit to Karabakh Peace




The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan vowed to end the conflict over Nagorny Karabakh at their first meeting since Robert Kocharyan, once leader of the disputed region, was elected Armenian head of state last month.


"Azerbaijan and Armenia confirm their commitment to a peaceful settlement of the armed conflict in Nagorny Karabakh," Interfax and Itar-Tass quoted them as saying in a joint statement after the talks in Moscow.


Both men were in Russia for a summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States.


They pledged to maintain a fragile 1994 cease-fire, which ended six years of fighting that left 35,000 dead, and to work for peace within the framework of the ad hoc Minsk group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a panel sponsored by the United States, France and Russia.


The election of Kocharyan, a Karabakh native who as Armenian prime minister helped force out President Levon Ter-Petrosyan for making too many concessions to Azerbaijan, was seen by diplomats as a possible setback for the peace process.


But he was quoted as saying Tuesday that both sides were ready to negotiate an end to the whole conflict not just the "armed conflict," as it appeared in their written statement.


No details were given of where concrete progress might be made. Aliyev was quoted as saying they had covered a broad range of issues in "fruitful" discussions lasting an hour and a half.


Under Soviet rule in 1988, majority ethnic Armenians in the mountainous Azeri region of Nagorny Karabakh demanded that administration of the area be transferred to Armenia.


Aliyev has offered the region broad autonomy within Azerbaijan. Kocharyan has flatly ruled out recognizing Azeri sovereignty over Karabakh.