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Armenia, Azerbaijan Urged to Resolve Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

June 19 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S., Russian and French presidents called for Armenia and Azerbaijan to find a peaceful solution to their conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

In a joint statement today from the Group of 20 meeting in Mexico, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin and Francois Hollande urged the two former Soviet republics to fulfill a January commitment to accelerate reaching a peace agreement. The U.S., Russia and France chair the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s so-called Minsk Group, which mediates on the dispute.

“The parties to the conflict should not further delay making the important decisions necessary to reach a lasting and peaceful settlement,” the leaders said. “As evidence of their political will, they should refrain from maximalist positions in the negotiations, respect the 1994 cease-fire agreement, and abstain from hostile rhetoric that increases tension.”

Energy-rich Azerbaijan fought a war with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mostly ethnic Armenian-populated region that broke free of Baku’s control after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. While the hostilities largely ended after a Russia-brokered cease-fire in 1994, the countries have failed to reach a peace agreement.

Five Armenian soldiers were killed and two were wounded during an exchange of fire with Azeri troops this month, while five Azeri soldiers died during a border clash with Armenian troops, Defense Ministries of both nations said June 6.

To contact the reporters on this story: Helena Bedwell in Tbilisi at hbedwell@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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