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Caucasus: Azerbaijan says no grounds for optimism on Karabakh in 2006

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There are no grounds for optimistic statements suggesting that an agreement on peaceful settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over Nagonro Karabakh will be signed in 2006, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov has said.
The conflicting sides are yet to agree upon 7 or 9 issues of principle. The status of peace talks will be known after a meeting of Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers in January, Mammadyarov told journalists.

The Minister admitted that the negotiations are complex and the conflicting sides still have discrepancies on several issues. He reiterated official Baku's position, saying that Azerbaijan's occupied territories must be freed first to achieve progress in solving the dispute.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has earlier said that a one-time settlement of the conflict more depends on Armenia's position and "it is hard to say that the problem will be solved in 2006".

Aliyev said that Azerbaijan's territorial integrity cannot be negotiated and he stated this in the meetings he held with the Armenian President Robert Kocharian.

"When compromise is referred to, it may involve only ensuring the security of all nations living in the region, which could be discussed by official Baku," he told journalists on Wednesday.

With regard to a possible stationing of peacekeepers in the conflict zone, the President said Azerbaijan could agree to this only if the conflict is resolved fairly.

Information for this report provided by Assa Irada

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