Vafa Guluzade and Jirair Liparitian, senior foreign policy advisors to Azerbaijani president Heydar Aliyev and Armenian president Levon Ter-Petrosian, respectively, are currently conducting unofficial, confidential talks in Paris on possible solutions to the Karabakh conflict. Baku officials familiar with the talks said yesterday that they are stumbling over the issues of Lachin, Shusha, and the future political status of Karabakh. Azerbaijan wants the withdrawal of Karabakh/Armenian forces from those two towns and offers autonomy for Karabakh within Azerbaijan, while the Armenian side insists on keeping the two towns and on independent statehood for Karabakh. (Interfax, May 30)
This is the second known round of talks between Guluzade and Liparitian after an initial round earlier this year in Amsterdam. The two have been tasked by their presidents to seek in informal bilateral meetings to overcome the chronic deadlock of the official Minsk Conference negotiations, in which Karabakh participates. Yerevan has consented to bilateral talks with Baku, but takes the position that it will only accept settlement terms which Karabakh accepts.
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