Armenian, Azerbaijan leaders to have first meeting in two years

Armenian, Azerbaijan leaders to have first meeting in two years

YEREVAN - Agence France-Presse
Armenian, Azerbaijan leaders to have first meeting in two years

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev gives a press conference after a meeting with Turkey's Prime Minister on the second day of his official visit to Turkey, on November 13, 2013 in Ankara. AFP PHOTO/ File

The presidents of arch-foes Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet in Vienna Nov. 19 for the first time in two years in a bid to restart stalled negotiations over the disputed region of Nagorny Karabakh, mediators said. Armenia's Serzh Sargsyan and Azerbaijan's Ilham Aliyev will meet along with mediators from the Organisation for the Security and Co-operation in Europe's (OSCE) Minsk Group, which has been spearheading attempts to negotiate a solution to the conflict.

"The Armenia-Azerbaijan Summit will take place in Vienna on November 19," James Warlick, the American co-chairman of the Minsk Group, wrote on Twitter. The press service for the Armenian president confirmed in a statement that the meeting would happen and said that Sargsyan would fly to Austria later on Monday. "A meeting will take place November 19 in Vienna between President Sargsyan and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev," the statement said.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Azerbaijani authorities. Aliyev is currently in Ukraine on an official visit.

Armenia and Azerbaijan are locked in a festering decades-long feud over the breakaway region of Nagorny Karabakh and frequently exchange sniper fire across the volatile frontline.

Armenia-backed separatists seized Nagorny Karabakh from Azerbaijan in a war that killed 30,000 people in the 1990s.

Despite years of negotiations since a 1994 ceasefire, the two sides have still not signed a peace deal.
The last meeting between the two leaders took place in January 2012 in the Russian resort of Sochi, the Armenian foreign ministry said. Azerbaijan has threatened to take back the disputed region by force if negotiations do not yield results, while Armenia has vowed to retaliate against any military action.