STEPANAKERT — President Serzh Sarkisian has visited Nagorno-Karabakh and inspected Armenian army positions around the territory ahead of planned talks with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev.

Sarkisian’s office said on Wednesday that he toured army units deployed at the northeastern section of the main Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact.”

One of those units held a military exercise in the presence of a uniform-clad Sarkisian, Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian and Karabakh’s top political and military leaders. A statement by the presidential press office said the Karabakh Armenian soldiers practiced offensive and defensive operations. One of the photographs released by it showed tanks opening fire during the drills.

The statement added that Sarkisian also inaugurated a new Karabakh army barracks before chairing a meeting of top Armenian and Karabakh military officers later on Tuesday. No details of that meeting were reported.

NKR President Sahakian highlighted the ongoing improvement of the Defense Army’s fighting efficiency considering it among “the most effective components of ensuring Artsakh’s security, peace and stability in the region.”

Sarkisian has inspected Armenian frontline positions on a regular basis. In particular, he attended large-scale war games near Karabakh in October last year.

Sarkisian’s latest visit comes just weeks before his anticipated meeting with Aliyev, which international mediators hope will help to kick-start the Karabakh peace process. U.S. President Barack Obama spoke of a “historic opportunity” to resolve the Karabakh conflict in a letter to Aliyev sent last week.

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