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Lavrov hopes Azeri, Armenian top diplomats to make progress on trust-building matters

" I hope a meeting of the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers due later this week will help consolidate these processes," he said

BAKU, December 2. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday he hopes an upcoming contact between the Azerbaijani and Armenian tops diplomats on the sidelines of an OSCE ministerial meeting will help consolidate efforts to build up measures of trust in the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement.

"We are interested in the implementation of the agreement on the measures of trust and media contacts that were reached at the Vienna summit and later at a ministerial meeting in Moscow. They are being gradually implemented and I hope a meeting of the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers due later this week will help consolidate these processes," he said at a meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

The Russian top diplomat said he shared the Azerbaijani president’s point of view that the sides must refrain from "rhetoric that runs counter to the basic principles undertaken by both sides and committed to paper in the United Nations Charter and the Helsinki Final Act."

"I agree with you that much is yet to be done in terms of lasting political settlement," Lavrov noted.

Touching on the topic of bilateral relations, the Russian minister hailed the results of the Russian visit by Azerbaijani First Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva in November. "We will work to implement the initiatives that were discussed during that visit," he said, adding that one of such initiatives was about adding the topic of innovations and high technologies to the bilateral economic cooperation. "Roadmaps will be developed. The situation in this sphere will be in focus of the intergovernmental commission in several days," he noted.

"As for our relations, Russia and Azerbaijan have always been reckoning with each other’s positions. We will continue to help defend our common positions and issues of interest for both Azerbaijan and Russia," he stressed.

The conflict between neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan over the highland region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory that had been part of Azerbaijan before the Soviet Union break-up but was mainly populated by Armenians, broke out in the early 1988 after the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region announced its withdrawal from the Azerbaijani Soviet Republic.

In 1991-1994, the confrontation spilled over into large-scale military action for control over the enclave and some adjacent territories after Azerbaijan lost control of them. Thousands fled their homes on both sides in a conflict that killed 30,000. A truce was called between Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh republic on one side and Azerbaijan on the other in May 1994.

Talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement have been held since 1992 in the format of the so-called OSCE Minsk Group, comprising along with its three co-chairs - Russia, France and the United States - Belarus, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Finland and Turkey.