NEW YORK — The U.S., Russian and French mediators urged Azerbaijan on Saturday to accept their long-standing proposal to set up a mechanism for international investigations of ceasefire violations in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.

In a statement issued from New York on September 26 the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs – Ambassadors Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, James Warlick of the United States of America, and Pierre Andrieu of France – stressed that Armenia had already agreed to discuss the details of such a mechanism.

“Armenia has agreed to discuss the details of the mechanism, and we urged Azerbaijan to do the same,” the three co-chairs said one day after hosting fresh talks in New York between the foreign ministers of the two states Edward Nalbandian and Elmar Mammadyarov.

“The Ministers agreed to continue preparations with the Co-Chairs on the next presidential summit, which is expected to be held before the end of this year,” the statement said.

The talks were overshadowed by recent days’ fresh escalation of fighting along “the line of contact” around Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, which has left about a dozen soldiers and civilians dead.

“The Co-Chairs condemned in strong terms the use of artillery that caused additional casualties in the last twenty-four hours,” read the joint statement issued by them. “We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the deceased. An escalation of violence is not in the interest of Azerbaijanis or Armenians, or a negotiated settlement.”

Armenia and Karabakh’s leadership have repeatedly said that they support the idea. Nalbandian reaffirmed this stance during the talks with Mammadyarov.

By contrast, Azerbaijan has objected to the proposed investigations until now. Its leaders have said that such an arrangement would be meaningless in the absence of an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace deal.

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