France hosts talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan

AP News
Posted: Oct 27, 2014 5:32 PM
France hosts talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan

PARIS (AP) — The leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia restarted a dialogue Monday during a three-way meeting in Paris with French president Francois Hollande, in an effort to ease tensions in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region of the southern Caucasus.

Armenian President Serge Sarkisian and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev agreed Monday to exchange information on the persons who disappeared during the six-year separatist war that ended in 1994. The process will be conducted under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to a written statement released by the French presidency.

They also agreed to continue the dialogue at new meeting in September 2015 on the sidelines of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York.

Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan but it and some surrounding territory have been under the control of Armenian soldiers and local Armenian forces since a 1994 cease-fire. Since then, there have been sporadic clashes, but last summer tensions rose sharply as 19 soldiers were killed in multiple confrontations.

Years of diplomatic efforts under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have made little visible progress in resolving the dispute.

Earlier Monday, Hollande met separately with each leader.

During a one-to-one meeting with Aliyev, the French president evoked the situation of the prominent human right activist Leila Yunus, who is jailed in Azerbaijan. Yunus was arrested with her husband and charged with spying for Armenia last July.

Aliyev "has made commitments" on that matter, said a top French official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak publicly on the matter. He didn't give details because of the sensitiveness of the issue.