The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to intensify talks aimed at ending a decades-long conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The announcement came Sunday in Moscow, following a one-on-one meeting between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sarkisyan. The two leaders were later joined by Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, who sponsored the meeting.
In a statement, the two Caucasus leaders said they are ready to continue pushing toward a "political settlement" to the conflict. They said they have agreed to instruct their foreign ministers to step up negotiations.
The Armenian-populated enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan in 1988, sparking a six-year armed conflict that claimed 35,000 lives. A 1994 cease-fire has been periodically interrupted by firefights.
Moscow is vying with Washington for influence in energy-rich Azerbaijan, a key exporter of oil and natural gas through pipelines that run through Georgia and Turkey.
The United States, Russia and France co-chair an international panel, the Minsk Group, that has sought to mediate the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.