During Key West Talks
For the Resolution of the Karabakh Conflict

U.S. President to Meet Azeri, Armenia Leaders

Source: Xinhua General News Service
Date: April 6, 2001

Dateline: Washington, April 6

U.S. President George W. Bush will meet the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia next week, the White House announced Friday.

Bush will meet Azeri President Haydar Aliyev and Armenian President Robert Kocharyan separately at the White House Monday afternoon, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

Meanwhile, significant progress toward a settlement of their conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh has been made in peace talks in Key West, Florida, senior U.S. officials close to the negotiations told The Associated Press.

Diplomats from the United States, Russia and France have been mediating talks between the two leaders. The three countries are the leaders of a subgroup of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that has been seeking to end the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh for nine years, AP reported.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell opened the talks Tuesday with a call for "mutual compromise" over the mostly ethnic Armenian enclave, whose move to secede from Azerbaijan and join Armenia in 1988 sparked six years of fighting that killed more than 30,000 people and drove a million more from their homes.

The conflict is a source for instability in the Caucasus region, where the United States has been trying to work out a pipeline to export Azerbaijan's large oil reserves.

A 1994 cease-fire left Nagorno-Karabakh and some surrounding territory - about one-fifth of the territory of Azerbaijan - firmly in the hands of the ethnic Armenians.

About 200 people are still killed every year in violence linked with the dispute and by leftover land mines. Hundreds of thousands who were driven from their homes still live in dormitories, mud- brick huts and other temporary housing.

Most of the negotiations in Key West have been "proximity talks " in which negotiators from the three countries have met separately with each president. But Aliev and Kocharian met and spoke during a cruise on a schooner Thursday evening, officials said.

But they did not revealed any details of the discussions.

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