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Armenia, Azerbaijan to continue Nagorny Karabakh talks


YEREVAN, January 28 (RIA Novosti) - The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed in Zurich on Wednesday to continue talks on the Nagorny Karabakh frozen conflict, a spokesman for the Armenian president said.

Nagorny Karabakh, a region in Azerbaijan with a largely Armenian population, declared its independence from Azerbaijan in 1983. The ensuing Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict claimed some 35,000 lives. A ceasefire was signed in 1994. The area technically remains part of Azerbaijan, but has its own de facto government.

The Armenian leader Serzh Sarkisyan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev, "asked the co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group to continue their efforts to reach common ground in the conflict," the spokesman said. "They also agreed on a visit by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen to the region in the near future."

The source added that the talks were "constructive and positive."

The Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers, Edvard Nalbandyan and Elmar Mammedyarov, respectively, as well as the co-chairmen of the Minsk Group, Yury Merzlyakov of Russia, Bernard Fassier of France, and Matthew Bryza of the U.S. also took part in the talks.

The two presidents also held one-on-one talks later in the day, which lasted about an hour, and talks then continued in the extended format.

The previous meeting between the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents was held in November 2008 in Moscow. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev hosted the talks, at which the leaders agreed to intensify efforts to settle the conflict.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group was created in 1992 to encourage a peaceful resolution to the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorny Karabakh.

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