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Armenia and Azerbaijan to sign no use of force agreement on Nagorny Karabakh

RIA Novosti

11:20 24/06/2011 MOSCOW, June 24 (RIA Novosti) - Armenian President Serzh Sargasyan and Azerbaijani President Ilkham Aliyev are to sign a document which will oblige them not to use force while resolving the Nagorny Karabakh conflict, at talks in the Russian city of Kazan on Friday, Kommersant daily said.

The Presidents of Russia will also attend the talks, which will attempt to move closer to a settlement of the two-decade conflict between Baku and Yerevan over Nagorny Karabakh.

A senior source from the Russian government said that Baku and Yerevan are ready to sign the document.

“The parties are holding the contents of the document in strict secret…Until recently Baku and Yerevan were satisfied with several provisions [Nagorny Karabakh settlement to Armenia and Azerbaijan in November 2007 in Madrid], but now we managed to persuade them to accept all of the principles,” the paper said.

Nagorny Karabakh, a breakaway region on Azerbaijani territory with a predominantly ethnic Armenian population, has remained in Armenian control since the late 1980s, when the region claimed independence from Azerbaijan to join Armenia. The conflict is estimated to have left more than 30,000 people dead on both sides between 1988 and 1994.

The U.S., France, and Russia presented a preliminary version of the Basic Principles for the Nagorny Karabakh settlement to Armenia and Azerbaijan in November 2007 in Madrid. That proposal was updated in 2009.

The Basic Principles include the return of the territories surrounding Nagorny Karabakh to Azerbaijani control, an interim status for Nagorny Karabakh providing guarantees for security and self-governance, and the right of all internally displaced persons and refugees to return to their former places of residence.

The OSCE Minsk Group, comprising Russia, France and the United States, has mediated the conflict for many years without much progress.

Shootouts frequently occur on the border between Azerbaijan and Nagorny Karabakh, with Baku and Yerevan continuing to accuse each other of violating the ceasefire agreed in 1994.

U.S. President Barack Obama said in phone calls on Thursday to Armenia's Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan that "the moment has come for all the sides to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to take a decisive step towards a peaceful settlement."

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