Top diplomats from Azerbaijan, Armenia to meet

Top diplomats from Azerbaijan and Armenia plan to meet in London next week for talks on resolving the conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, Armenia's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday. The Jan. 17-18 meeting between Armenia Foreign Minister Vardan Osakyan and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Elmar Mamedyarov, comes amid growing hopes that this year could bring significant progress toward resolving the conflict that saw ethnic Armenian and Azerbaijan forces fighting a six-year war in the early 1990s.

Fighting ended with a 1994 cease-fire, but tensions remain high and sporadic shooting still breaks out. Azerbaijan wants the return of the enclave to its control. Nagorno-Karabakh, run by an internationally unrecognized ethnic Armenian government, wants independence or union with Armenia. International mediators said last month that they have a series of promising new proposals to resolve the dispute, but have so far refused to reveal details.

Officials at Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry could not be immediately reached for comment. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's so-called Minsk Group, which includes Russia, France and the United States, has been trying to help resolve the conflict, which killed some 30,000 people and displaced 1 million. The foreign ministers from Azerbaijan and Armenia last met in early December. Armenia's Foreign Ministry also said that the presidents of the two countries might meet to discuss the conflict sometime in February. Their last meeting was on the sidelines of a Commonwealth of Independent States summit in August, reports the AP. N.U.

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