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Leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan set for first meeting since October

The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan are set to meet for the first time since October at trilateral talks with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Munich on Saturday, the U.S. State Department said.

Tensions have escalated between the two South Caucasus nations over a two-month blockade of the Lachin corridor, the only land route giving Armenia direct access to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The U.S. State Department said Blinken would meet Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev at 1235 GMT. The politicians are attending the three-day Munich Security Conference.

Armenia has sent Azerbaijan a draft proposal for a peace settlement, Pashinyan said this week.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but its 120,000 inhabitants are predominantly ethnic Armenians and it broke away from Baku in a first war in the early 1990s.

Azeri civilians identifying themselves as environmental activists have been facing off since Dec. 12 with Russian peacekeepers on the Lachin corridor.

Yerevan says the protesters are government-backed agitators. Baku denies blockading the road, saying that some convoys and aid are allowed through.

Saturday’s meeting would be the two leaders’ first face-to-face encounter since late October, when Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted talks in the Black Sea city of Sochi. A Dec. 7 meeting in Brussels was scrapped.

Source : Reuters



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