GERMANY'S TOP DIPLOMAT SEEKS SOLUTIONS IN ARMENIA-AZERBAIJAN CONFLICT



German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Wednesday kicked off a three day trip to the volatile South Caucasus, where promoting reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the contested Nagorno-Karabakh is on the top of the agenda. 

Steinmeier heads to the region with Germany at the helm of the rotating presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which supports reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan through the Minsk Group co-chaired by France, Russia and the United States. 

Germany's goal as head of the OSCE is to try to reinvigorate talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia after the frozen conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh escalated in April, leaving at least 120 dead on both sides of the contact line. 

"The status quo in the long run is not sustainable," said Steinmeier in Armenia on Wednesday. "The longer concrete progress fails to materialize, the greater the risk of renewed escalation." 

The goal is to consolidate the existing ceasefire, increase confidence building measures and the resumption of peace negotiations to resolve one of the world's most intractable conflicts. 

The German foreign minister met with his Armenian counterpart Edward Edward Nalbandian and President Serzh Sargsyan in Yerevan, where he also visited the Armenian genocide memorial and met with civil society groups. 

On Thursday in the the Azeri capital Baku, Steinmeier met with his counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov, who he urged to reach a compromise with Armenia. 

"We need hope on all sides and the willingness to reach compromises," Steinmeier said, calling for peace talks to advance. 

Armenia and Azerbaijan are scheduled to meet in Paris at an undetermined date. Armenian President Sargsyan and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev last met on June 20 in Moscow, where Russian President Vladimir Putin helped mediate talks. 

Steinmeier's three day visit to the region will wrap up with a trip to Tblisi, Georgia.






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