End in sight for 20-year Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

There are rising hopes that a two-decade-long frozen conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan could be coming to an end.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev held talks with the leaders of the two countries, and says he hopes all sides will agree settlement principles within a month, Interfax news agency reports.

However, Armenian officials believe the peace talks will not result in the signing of any crucial document.

Meanwhile, the parties agreed to the immediate exchange of prisoners of war and the bodies of those killed in the conflict.

Over the past several years, there has been occasional armed action between Karabakh and Azerbaijani troops. The exchange of prisoners and the bodies of those killed has always been a complicated process.

According to President Medvedev, Armenia and Azerbaijan have reached an important agreement, taking into account all the difficulties that exist with the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The confrontation over the disputed territory broke out in 1988 when the region, mostly populated by Armenians, sought independence from the Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.

In 1991 the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic was founded. Azerbaijan tried to regain control over the region and the conflict escalated into a war that killed about thirty thousand people. The conflict ended in 1994, with Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence remaining unrecognized and the region being part of Azerbaijan, according to Baku’s legislation.

Armenia has been supporting the Nagorno-Karabakh region, representing its interests on the official level. In the last 15 years Russia has been the main mediator in peace talks.