Azerbaijan, Baku / corr Trend A.Gasimova / Matthew Bryza, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, and also OSCE Minsk Group co-chair informed the Associated Press that "If the St. Petersburg meeting is successful, then the number of differences remaining on basic principles could be reduced to close to zero."
President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Armenian President Robert Kocharian are expected to focus on the most pressingpoints during talks in St. Petersburg, Russia, on 9 June.
The OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, observing the Armenian-Azerbaijani talks on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, US Ambassador Yuriy Merzlyakov and French Ambassador Bernard Fassier do not hide their optimism in connection with forthcoming talks between the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents in St. Petersburg on 9 June. The meeting will be held during the informal summit of the CIS head of state.
After more than a decade of efforts by international mediators to break a deal on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents are close to resolving the remaining obstacles to an agreement on basic principles, according to Bryza.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have made substantial progress toward the settlement on control of a disputed territory, the U.S chief. mediator in the talks stated. The leadership of Armenia and Azerbaijan should be praised for their courage in trying to bring stability and prosperity to their peoples," he said.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 due to the territorial claims by Armenia against Azerbaijan. Armenia has occupied 20% of the Azerbaijani land including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven Districts of the country surrounding it. Since 1992 to the present time, these territories have been under the occupation of the Armenian Forces. In 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement at which time the active hostilities ended. The Co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group ( Russia, France and USA) are presently holding peaceful negotiations.