Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders agree to renew truce

Vienna (AFP) –


The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan on Monday agreed to respect a renewed ceasefire in their conflict over the disputed region of Nagorny Karabakh and to resume political dialogue.

President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian announced the deal in a joint statement after emergency talks with US, Russian and French mediators in Vienna.

The long-frozen conflict in the disputed enclave erupted into fierce fighting in April in clashes that left at least 110 people dead and sparked fears of open warfare.

Seeking to nip the renewed conflict in the bud, the so-called "Minsk Group" of Russia, France and the United States invited the two leaders to the Austrian capital for their first face-to-face meeting since hostilities resumed.

"The presidents reiterated their commitment to the ceasefire and the peaceful settlement of the conflict," according to a joint statement released after the talks.

"The presidents agreed on a next round of talks, to be held in June at a place to be mutually agreed, with an aim to resuming negotiations on a comprehensive settlement."

The parties also agreed to beef up the ceasefire monitoring mission run by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) which presently has only six observers on the tense frontline.