Putin meets with Armenia and Azerbaijan heads

August 10, 2014 - 12:05 PM

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin held a joint meeting Sunday with the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia, as concerns mount over the escalation of fighting over the South Caucasus region Nagorno-Karabakh.

Putin met with Armenian President Serge Sarkisian and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev in Sochi to discuss rising tensions in the disputed territory. Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan but it and some surrounding territory have been under the control of Armenian soldiers and local Armenian forces since a 1994 cease-fire ended a separatist war. Since then, there have been sporadic clashes, but tensions have risen sharply in the past week as 19 soldiers were killed, 13 of them Azeri.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told news agencies that the meeting had been beneficial and both sides had committed to continuing talks, but admitted that "the devil is in the details, and the most complicated questions are still unsolved."

Years of diplomatic efforts under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have made little visible progress in resolving the dispute. In their opening remarks, both leaders criticized the other side for failing to live up to its international obligations in the conflict.