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Sarkozy calls for 'peace' between feuding nations

French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to 'take the risk of peace' ahead of his two-day state visit to the Caucasus region and restart talks over the disputed Nagomy Karabakh territory.


REUTERS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday called on Armenia and Azerbaijan ahead of his two-day visit to "take the risk of peace" and restart talks on the contested Nagorny Karabakh region.

"For you also, the moment has come to take the risk of peace. Because there is no greater danger than that of inaction, which gives rise to illusions, fuels resentment, and delays bit by bit the chances of peace every day," Sarkozy said in an interview to Armenian news agency Mediamax.

"It's the same message I will bring to President Aliyev in Baku," he said.

Sarkozy will spend Thursday evening in Yerevan before continuing his brief tour of the former Soviet states in the Caucasus region Friday, visiting Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Nagorny Karabakh, a mountainous territory populated mostly by Armenians, was given to Azerbaijan in the Soviet era.

It declared its independence after a war between 1988 and 1994 that claimed 30,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

Although a cease-fire was signed, Baku and Yerevan remain at bitter odds over the non-recognised republic, with Armenia insisting that Karabakh will never return under Azerbaijan's control.

Both civilians and soldiers are regularly reported shot along the Karabakh border, and Armenian forces last month claimed to have shot down an Azerbaijani spy plane for the first time.

The latest peace talks held in Russia in June disintegrated into mutual accusations of undermining the peace process and failed to produce a concrete agreement.

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