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02 March 2024

Armenia, Azerbaijan vow to speed up Karabakh agreement


Russian-mediated talks between enemies Armenia and Azerbaijan ended with promises to speed up the peace process but no public steps towards signing a roadmap deal, seen as key to a settlement.

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and his Azerbaijan counterpart Ilham Aliyev met Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev in the southern city of Sochi in the latest in years of negotiations about the territorial conflict over the disputed Nagorny Karabakh region.

In a joint statement, the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents said they were "ready to speed up the achievement of an agreement on basic principles" -- a roadmap deal which could, if eventually signed, bring them closer to a final settlement.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the two sides had also agreed it was necessary to "move away from maximalist positions", the Interfax news agency reported.

But he noted that there was "a whole series of issues that remained to be agreed" before they could sign the 'basic principles' agreement.

Armenian separatists backed by Yerevan seized Karabakh from Azerbaijan in a war in the 1990s that left some 30,000 people dead, and the two sides have not signed a final peace deal since the 1994 ceasefire.

Amid continuing frontline skirmishes, Azerbaijan has threatened to use force to win back Karabakh if talks fail to yield satisfactory results, while Yerevan has warned of large-scale retaliation if Baku launches military action.