MILAN — The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan have held fresh negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict which they both described as “useful.”

Zohrab Mnatsakanian and Elmar Mammadyarov met in Milan late on Wednesday for a third time in five months.

The meeting was preceded by the meeting of the head of the Armenian Foreign Ministry with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs Stéphane Visconti, Igor Popov, Andrew Schofer, and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry said afterwards that the two men engaged in a “useful exchange of views” in the presence of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.

“I think that the negotiations, which lasted for three hours, were important and useful in terms of better understanding the parties’ positions,” Mammadyarov said, for his part.

The Trend news agency also quoted Mammadyarov as saying that he and Mnatsakanian will likely meet again next month. The Armenian Foreign Ministry likewise said the two ministers agreed to “continue their meetings soon” and thus “maintain the current dynamic” of the negotiating process.

Their latest talks came over two months after Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev briefly spoke with each other on sidelines of a summit of ex-Soviet states held in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe. Pashinian said they agreed to stop ceasefire violations in the conflict zone, including by launching direct communication links.

The Minsk Group co-chairs noted a significant drop in such violations after visiting Baku, Stepanakert and Yerevan last month. In a joint statement, they praised the conflicting parties for “implementing constructive measures in good faith” and voiced support for Aliyev’s and Pashinian’s “readiness to continue their dialogue.”

Visiting Yerevan in late October, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said Washington hopes Pashinian will take “decisive steps” to help resolve the Karabakh conflict after his likely victory in Armenia’s December 9 parliamentary elections. Bolton told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that “there is no better time to try and take decisive action than right after that election.”

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