Aliyev and Pashinyan to meet in Moscow this week as sides "very close" to a deal

The Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan are to meet in Moscow on 25 May for another round of talks, this time hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The announcement about the leaders' meeting came one day before the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers, Jeyhun Bayramov and Ararat Mirzoyan, also met in Moscow last week on Friday (19 May).

Following that meeting, despite saying that Armenia and Azerbaijan were "very, very close" to reaching a final agreement, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed that the two sides must address other issues before further progress on a peace treaty can be made.

"Work on the peace treaty is undoubtedly fundamental," he told the press after the trilateral meeting in Moscow. "But our partners confirmed today that without solving the issues of delimitation, unblocking transport and economic links and an overall improvement of the security situation in both Karabakh and on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border it’s very hard to make progress on concrete aspects of the peace treaty. We discussed all this together."

Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani transport link task force, border delimitation

Lavrov also announced that a Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani task force dealing with the "practical modalities" of re-establishing transport links in the region would meet this week commencing Monday 22 May.

This is on top of a separate Armenian-Azerbaijani group working on border delimitation and demarcation with Russian assistance, that would also soon resume its activities, according to Lavrov.

Back-to-back meetings between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Last week's meeting between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers in Moscow is the latest in a string of high-level meetings between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Armenia and Azerbaijan made "tangible progress" towards a peace deal in talks just outside Washington D.C. at the start of May.

Then, on 14 May, Prime Minister Pashinyan and President Aliyev met again in Brussels to build on that progress. A key outcome of these talks was that both Armenia and Azerbaijan recognise each other's territorial integrity as per the 1991 Almaty Declaration.

Last week's meeting on Friday (19 May), and this week's meeting on Thursday (25 May), both in Moscow, will be the next two high-level meetings between Armenia and Azerbaijan before Prime Minister Pashinyan and President Aliyev meet in Chisinau, Moldova, at the second summit of the European Political Community on 1 June.

source: with agencies
photo: Reuters