YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia’said Thursday it is releasing three Azeri prisoners of war as a gesture of "good will" to Azerbaijan and international efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The move was welcomed by the chairman-in-office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe who pledged to assist in the latest dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said the release is timed to the visit to the region by the OSCE’s rotating chairman–Norwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek. Oskanian said the POWs will be flown to Azerbaijan by Vollebaek on the last–third leg of his South Caucasus tour.
The OSCE’s rotating head told reporters that the prisoner release is a "good sign of [Armenia’s] determination to move forward in the peace process." Yerevan has said before that there are no more than a dozen Azeri POWs on its territory. The exact number of POWs held by the Karabakh Armenia’s and Azerbaijan is not known.