The U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group met in Paris on Monday for what they described as “intensive consultations” on ways of kick-starting the Karabakh peace process.
“The Co-Chairs carefully considered and assessed the private and public messages and concerns of the sides,” they said in a joint statement issued after the meeting.
The mediators also spoke separately by phone with Foreign Ministers Jeyhun Bayramov of Azerbaijan and Zohrab Mnatsakanian of Armenia. According to the statement, they “invited the ministers to meet individually with the Co-Chairs in person in the coming weeks to further clarify their respective positions, with the aim of resuming serious substantive negotiations without preconditions.”
Speaking after talks with Bayramov held in Moscow on August 26, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the mediators are planning to visit the conflict zone and organize talks between the top Armenian and Azerbaijani diplomats. Lavrov stressed that these plans are contingent on preventing the kind of deadly ceasefire violations that broke out on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border on July 12.
The weeklong border clashes involving artillery and attack drones left at least 17 soldiers from both sides dead. They erupted just days after Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev lambasted the Minsk Group co-chairs and threatened to pull out of “pointless negotiations” with Yerevan.
The conflicting parties have reported no serious ceasefire violations on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and the “line of contact” around Karabakh since the beginning of August.
The mediators said a small OSCE mission monitoring the ceasefire regime there is now preparing to resume its work which was suspended early this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The longtime head of the mission, Andrzej Kasprzyk, also took part in their meeting in Paris.