French President Begins Visit To Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is opening a visit to the South Caucasus states of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, during which he is expected to urge moves to ease regional tensions.

Sarkozy is scheduled to first visit Armenia, and travel on to Azerbaijan and Georgia on October 7, before returning to Paris.

Ahead of his visit, Sarkozy on October 5 called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to “take the risk of peace” and move toward a settlement on Nagorno-Karabakh, the ethnic-Armenian-held territory inside Azerbaijan.

France is a co-chair, along with Russia and the United States, of the Minsk Group of the Organization For Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has been trying to mediate a resolution of the Karabakh conflict.

In Georgia, Sarkozy is due to meet with President Mikheil Saakashvili for talks expected to cover Georgia’s tense relations with Russia that have persisted since the brief 2008 war the two countries fought over the separatist Georgian territory of South Ossetia.

Sarkozy helped mediate a cease-fire in the conflict three years ago, when France held the presidency of the European Union.

compiled from agency reports

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