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Pashinyan, Aliyev Discuss Peace Process in St. Petersburg

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan on Tuesday discussed the peace process between their countries during a meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia on the margins of a Commonwealth of Independent States summit.

Pashinyan’s press secretary Nazeli Baghdasaryan told Azatutyun.am about the “informal meeting,” saying the talks were “bilateral, meaning the two leaders talked without a third country mediator — in this case Russia — president.

“Issues related to the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace agenda were discussed. The discussions were in a bilateral format,” Baghdasaryan said, without elaborating.

It was the first time the two leaders were meeting since Azerbaijan’s large-scale attack on Artsakh in September, which forced the displacement of more than 100,000 Artsakh residents. Aliyev and his foreign minister, Jeyhum Bayramov, canceled scheduled meetings in Brussels and Washington, respectively, scheduled after the September attack.

Earlier on Tuesday, Russian media outlets circulated a short video showing Pashinyan and Aliyev shaking hands during an excursion to the Tsarskoe Selo State Museum and Heritage Site in Saint Petersburg as CIS leaders entered the venue ahead of the unofficial CIS summit.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia had invited the leaders of CIS countries — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — to discuss issues not in a meeting format, but during an excursion in the palace-park complexes of Saint Petersburg.

Pashinyan also met with President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, who last month hosted a meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization in Minsk. The Armenian prime minister did not attend that gathering.

The Kremlin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told Russia’s Channel One television that the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan have expressed interest in signing a peace deal.

“They are ready to conclude peace negotiations, issue a joint document, to sign the peace treaty,” Peskov said.

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