ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN LEADERS TO TALK PEACE IN MAY: MEDIATORS

Agence France Presse
April 27, 2009 Monday 12:38 PM GMT

The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan will hold fresh talks on the
disputed Nagorny Karabakh region at a European summit next month,
international mediators said Monday.

The meeting between Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and Azerbaijani
counterpart Ilham Aliyev will take play on May 7 in Prague, said the
co-chairs of the Minsk Group of international mediators.

quot;The two presidents have confirmed they will participate in a
meeting in Prague,quot; said Bernard Fassier, the group's French
co-chairman, told journalists.

quot;We hope that this process will create a favourable climate for
settling the Karabakh conflict,quot; he said.

Prague is to host the launch of an Eastern Partnership project aimed at
boosting the European Union's ties with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus,
Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

The American co-chair of the group, Deputy Assistant Secretary
of State Matthew Bryza, said he hoped recent moves to normalise
relations between Armenia and Turkey would help speed up the Karabakh
peace process.

quot;We believe that the normalisation of relations between Turkey and
Armenia will be a positive development for the entire region.... It
will also promote the process of settling the Karabakh question,quot;
he said.

quot;There is a new mood and new opportunities today for a faster
decision on the Karabakh question,quot; he said.

Armenia and Turkey last week announced a quot;roadmapquot; for talks
that could lead to normalising ties and the opening of their border.

Turkey has refused to establish diplomatic links with Armenia over
its efforts to have Ottoman-era killings of Armenians recognised
as genocide.

Azerbaijan has urged Turkey not to move forward in talks with Armenia
unless Yerevan agrees to withdraw its troops from Karabakh.

Backed by Armenia, ethnic Armenian separatists seized control of
Nagorny Karabakh in the early 1990s in a war that killed nearly 30,000
people and forced two million to flee their homes.

A ceasefire was signed between the two former Soviet republics in
1994 but the dispute remains unresolved.

France, Russia and the United States are co-chairs of the Minsk Group,
which is seeking to resolve the conflict.