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Armenian top diplomat expects to meet with Azerbaijani counterpart

Armenian Foreign Minister expects to continue talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

YEREVAN, August 1. /TASS/. Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan expects to hold a meeting with Azerbaijan’s new top diplomat Jeyhun Bayramov for talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as Mnatsakanyan himself told the Shant TV channel.

"We haven’t established direct contact yet. The important thing is for us to ensure de-escalation [on the border] and prepare for the next phase of work," he pointed out.

"In this regard, I expect to meet with my Azerbaijani counterpart. We are ready to work with anyone in order to continue talks. I certainly hope that I will deal with a positive and responsible person," Mnatsakanyan added.

Tensions on the Azerbaijan-Armenia border started to escalate on July 12. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said that the Armenian military had attempted an artillery attack on Azerbaijan’s positions along the border. However, both countries say that the situation on the border has remained relatively calm since July 17. At the same time, reports keep coming in of shelling along the border and the line of contact in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Both sides have reported casualties.

The conflict between 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 primarily populated by ethnic Armenians, broke out in February 1988 after the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region announced its withdrawal from the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1992-1994, tensions boiled over and exploded into large-scale military action for control over the enclave and seven adjacent territories after Azerbaijan lost control of them. Talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement have been ongoing since 1992 under the OSCE Minsk Group, led by its three co-chairs - Russia, France and the United States.