Azerbaijan, Baku, March 7 / Trend , N. Abdullayeva/ The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs hope to continue progress to narrow differences between sides of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the joint statement issued by Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group Yury Merzlyakov (Russia), Bernard Fassier (France) and Matthew Bryza (U.S.) said. The statement is posted on the OSCE Web site.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 surrounding districts. Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France, and the U.S. - are currently holding the peace negotiations.
The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group traveled to Baku, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Yerevan from February to 27 March 3, 2009. In Baku and Yerevan they met with the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as their Foreign Ministers, and in Nagorno-Karabakh the Co-Chairs met with the de facto authorities and representatives of civil society.
"The Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan expressed their desire to continue meeting regularly. The Co-Chairs will therefore seek to organize a summit of the two Presidents in the coming months to discuss the key unresolved issues within the Basic Principles for the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," the statement said.
"We hope to continue to make progress in the talks by clarifying and narrowing the differences between the sides so that a peaceful settlement can be reached in the soonest possible timeframe," the diplomats said.
While welcoming the continuation of a dialogue between the sides, the Co-Chairs condemn the ceasefire violation along the Line of Contact on February 26, 2009, which occurred during a monitoring mission conducted by the Personal Representative of the Chairman-in-Office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk.
The Co-Chairs deplore that in 2008 over 30 people were killed and more than 50 injured, and another six killed since the beginning of this year, as a result of ceasefire violations. The Co-Chairs urge the parties to review again their proposal to consolidate the ceasefire, which was made at the OSCE Ministerial Council in Helsinki in December 2008.
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