Azerbaijani and Armenian Leaders to Meet

From Associated Press

At the invitation of Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia will meet in the United States next month to discuss a resolution of their long-running dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, the State Department said Wednesday.

Spokesman Richard Boucher said the talks between Azerbaijan's Heydar A. Aliyev and Robert Kocharyan of Armenia will begin April 3 in Key West, Fla.

The talks are being sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and will be mediated by negotiators from the United States, Russia and France, Boucher said. The negotiators are co-chairmen of an OSCE subgroup that has been trying the resolve the conflict between the two former Soviet republics for more than a decade.

Presidents Aliyev and Kocharyan began a direct dialogue in 1999 and have met more than a dozen times seeking a settlement.

Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave in Azerbaijan populated largely by ethnic Armenians, declared independence in early 1988, prompting a six-year war that killed 15,000 people and left about 1 million refugees. A truce was reached in 1994, but sporadic border clashes still occur.

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