Armenia blames Azerbaijan for peace talks failure

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Armenia blamed Azerbaijan on Saturday for the failure of a peace summit in Russia aimed at resolving a bitter territorial dispute that world powers fear could erupt into armed conflict.

The enemy countries' leaders did not to manage to agree terms on a "basic principles" agreement intended as a road map towards resolving their dispute over the Nagorny Karabakh conflict zone, despite strong international pressure before their meeting in the Russian city of Kazan on Friday.

"Kazan did not become a turning point because Azerbaijan was not ready to accept the latest version of the basic principles," Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said in a statement.

He accused Azerbaijan of undermining the talks by calling for "about 10" changes to the long-discussed document.

Despite the lack of any formal agreement, the two sides said they had achieved some progress.

"The heads of state noted the reaching of mutual understanding on a number of questions, whose resolution helps create conditions to approve the basic principles," the leaders said in a statement published by the Kremlin.

The meeting supervised by Russia's Dmitry Medvedev had sparked optimism that Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev might achieve the first major progress in many years of fruitless talks.

The two sides still exchange deadly fire around the Nagorny Karabakh conflict zone, 17 years after fighting a war over the now Armenian separatist-controlled region in western Azerbaijan.

The conflict in the 1990s killed some 30,000 people, and there are fears that a new flare-up could be even bloodier and potentially threaten pipelines taking Caspian Sea oil and gas from Azerbaijan to Europe.

© 2011 AFP

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