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    MOSCOW, February 2, 2004. /RIA Novosti correspondent Petr Goncharov/ - The Nagorno Karabakh conflict will not be settled in 2004, but the negotiation mechanism is to start working, Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov told journalist in Moscow on Monday. He is a co-chairman of the Minsk conference on Nagorno Karabakh, a border region that has been the object of dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia for a decade now.

    The talks held in 2002 by the late president of Azerbaijan Geidar Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart Robert Kocharyan "evidently came to a deadlock" and the main task now is "to resume the negotiations as soon as possible," Trubnikov believes.

    The first meeting of Kocharyan with Azerbaijan's new president Ilkham Aliyev that took place in Geneva last December "was very important, but could not resolve all the questions", the diplomat believes. It is necessary to work out "a new common ground for negotiations" and "this is far from being easy, as now the parties' starting points differ more than they did two or three years ago," he said.

    Nevertheless, Moscow hopes that this year will see "important shifts" in the Nagorno Karabakh settlement. On a bilateral basis and together with the USA and France as a co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk group, Russia is doing "its utmost so that this new stage begins as soon as possible," Trubnikov emphasized.

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