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Armenia, Azerbaijan leaders discuss conflict settlement in Moscow

RIA Novosti

21:4217/07/2009 YEREVAN, July 17 (RIA Novosti) - The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev, met in Moscow on Friday to discuss the Nagorny Karabakh conflict.

The talks focused on settlement principles that were agreed at internationally mediated talks in Madrid two years ago, Armenian television reported.

The presidents' bilateral talks will be followed on Saturday by three-way discussions involving Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Nagorny Karabakh, a region in Azerbaijan with a largely Armenian population, has been a source of conflict between the former Soviet republics since the late 1980s. The province has its own government and is de facto independent.

The secretary general of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said earlier in the day that Armenia and Azerbaijan need to make concessions based on the principles set out by the OSCE's Minsk Group mediating the conflict.

The co-chairs of the Minsk Group - the United States, Russia and France - said during the G8 summit in Italy earlier this month that they would submit a revised set of proposals on the disputed region.

"The principles declared in L'Aquila by the leaders of the states co-chairing the OSCE's Minsk Group should be acceptable to both parties in the conflict, and they should move towards rapprochement on the basis of these principles," Secretary General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut said at a news conference in Baku.

The Minsk Group said any agreement must be based on an accord reached in 2007 in Madrid.

The group also unveiled new principles for settling the dispute, including defining Nargorny Karabakh's status in regard to freedom of movement with Armenia, as well as road and rail links between the countries. The group also said that security in the area must be guaranteed and troops should be withdrawn.

The war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the mountainous enclave in 1988-1994 left an estimated 35,000 people dead. Sporadic violence on the border has continued ever since.

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