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Azerbaijani, Armenian Presidents To Meet In Geneva Over Nagorno-Karabakh

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian (right) and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliyev, in St. Petersburg for talks in June

The Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents are set to meet on October 16 to discuss a possible settlement of the conflict over Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Serzh Sarkisian of Armenia and Azerbaijan's Ilham Aliyev are due to hold face-to-face talks in Geneva under the auspices of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, and the Armenian presidency said.

Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in a conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh for years.

The region, populated mainly by ethnic Armenians, declared independence from Azerbaijan amid a 1988-94 war that killed about 30,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands.

Internationally mediated negotiations with the involvement of the Minsk Group, which is co-chaired by France, Russia, and the United States, have failed to result in a resolution.

Ahead of the Geneva meeting, Koryun Nahapetian, chairman of the permanent commission on defense and security of Armenia’s National Assembly, told journalists that no breakthrough was expected.

"We can hardly expect a revision of [Azerbaijan’s] policy in the near future, but in any case we will wait for the course of the negotiations, and there may be some surprises," Nahapetian said.

In talks in St. Petersburg, Russia, in June 2016, Sarkisian and Aliyev expressed readiness to seek a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The last meeting mediated by the co-chairs of the Minsk Group took place in Vienna in May 2016.

It followed a truce in April that halted four days of fierce fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia-backed separatists and Azerbaijan’s military. About 75 soldiers from both sides were killed in April, along with several civilians.