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Azerbaijan, Armenia FMs Discuss Nagorno-Karabakh Settlement

RIA Novosti

03:33 28/10/2012 BAKU, October 28 (RIA Novosti) - Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers Elmar Mammadyarov and Edward Nalbandian and other officials have met in Paris to discuss the conflict over breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said.

“The sides expressed concern over the situation around the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. Consultations and discussions of how to address the standstill in the conflict settlement were held,” the ministry said in a statement.

Nagorno-Karabakh, the predominantly Armenian-populated region, claimed independence from Azerbaijan in the late 1980s, triggering a bloody conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan which left more than 30,000 people dead on both sides between 1988 and 1994. The region has since remained under Armenian control. The OSCE Minsk Group, comprising the United States, Russia and France, mediates the conflict.

The meeting, which took place on Saturday, also involved co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - ambassadors Robert Bradtke of the United States, Russia’s Igor Popov, France’s Jacques Faure, and the personal representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk.

The sides also discussed the Minsk Group co-chairs’ planned visit to the region in the second half of November.

Relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan have been further aggravated by the extradition and subsequent pardoning of Azerbaijani serviceman Ramil Safarov, who killed an Armenian serviceman eight years ago.

Safarov had been serving a life sentence with a possibility of parole only after 25 years for killing an Armenian soldier during a NATO training event in Hungary's capital Budapest in 2004. He attacked Gurgen Margaryan with an ax as the Armenian slept, striking him an alleged 16 times.

In August, Hungary extradited Safarov to Azerbaijan, where he was pardoned by President Ilham Aliyev, greeted as a national hero and promoted to the rank of major. Hungary said it had agreed to return Safarov to Azerbaijan after receiving assurances that his sentence would be enforced.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said earlier in September he hopes tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the pardoned killer would not affect the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.

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