The Soviet government's highest executive body Thursday imposed a "special form of administration" on the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region while keeping it within the Azerbaijani republic, Tass said.

The decision by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet was another step by the government aimed at defusing tensions over the mostly Armenian enclave, which has been the focus of a violent struggle between Armenians and Azerbaijanis.The dispute between Armenia, which wants to annex the area, and neighboring Azerbaijan has led to more than 60 deaths in almost a year of unrest. About 200,000 refugees have streamed across the border.

Military law and a strict curfew were imposed in many parts of the two republics in November to quell ethnic violence.

Tass said the decision Thursday was made at a meeting of the Presidium convened by President Mikhail S. Gorbachev to consider "urgent" state issues.