WALES (RFE/RL) — Seeking to break the deadlock in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry organized a fresh meeting of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan on the sidelines of a NATO summit late on Thursday.
The three men spoke for about two hours in the presence of the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers and senior U.S. diplomats in a gold resort in Wales. No concrete agreements were announced after the talks.
“The parties presented their positions in the negotiating process,” President Serzh Sarkisian’s office said in a statement. It said Kerry urged the two sides to reduce tensions in the Karabakh conflict zone, take confidence-building measures and demonstrate “the political will” to reach a compromise settlement.
Just before the trilateral meeting with Kerry, Sarkisian and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev held separate talks with French President Francois Hollande. According to Sarkisian’s office, they discussed yet another Armenian-Azerbaijani summit which Hollande hopes to host soon. It gave no possible dates for that encounter.
Hollande urged Aliyev and Sarkisian to meet in Paris when he visited Baku and Yerevan in June. The U.S., and French and Russian mediators co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Groups had tried in vain to arrange such a meeting earlier this year, hoping that it will kick-start the stalled peace process.
Aliyev and Sarkisian met in the Russian city of Sochi on August 10 only after a sharp escalation of deadly fighting along “the line of contact” around Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Ceasefire violations there have decreased dramatically since those talks mediated by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Addressing the NATO summit earlier in the day, Sarkisian warned the U.S.-led alliance against adding pro-Azerbaijani wording to the final summit declaration which he said is sought by Turkey. Highlighting the current atmosphere in the Karabakh peace process, he also branded Aliyev a “dictator.”
“Either [the summit declaration] will adopt the language of the OSCE Minsk Group, which is the only specialized international structure dealing with the Nagorno-Karabakh problem … or will again succumb to lobbying by another member state aimed at saving the face of our dictator neighbor vis-a-vis his own people,” he said. “Believe me, that would not lead to any positive results.”