Moscow discusses Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict

Russia said on Friday that Armenia and Azerbaijan had agreed on their first talks on ending the fighting against Nagorno-Karabakh, with no signs of an end to fierce fighting in the disputed region.

 

Moscow discusses Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict

Russia's foreign ministry has confirmed that senior diplomats from both countries are joining the talks in the Russian capital following President Vladimir Putin's appeal last night.

 

"Baku and Yerevan have confirmed their participation," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told AFP.

 

Armenian and Azerbaijani defense officials said fierce clashes continued from Thursday to Friday night, with more civilian casualties, reported after Putin announced a meeting in Moscow and called for a humanitarian ceasefire.

 

Fighting broke out late last month between Armenian separatists and Azerbaijani forces in the disputed territory of Azerbaijan, which declared independence after the war in the 1990s.

 

Both sides have rejected growing calls for an end to the fighting, which has claimed the lives of nearly 400 people, including dozens of civilians, and Azerbaijan has said it wants to seize the Armenian province by a majority. Is committed to

 

The Kremlin said late Thursday that after several meetings with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Putin was pushing for an end to hostilities in Karabakh "for the exchange of bodies and prisoners."

 

The Kremlin said the two countries' foreign ministers had been invited’ to the Russian capital to use the talks in the middle of the Russian Foreign Ministry to end hostilities.

 

After an an uncertain ceasefire was agreed’ in 1994, diplomatic efforts to find a lasting solution to the decades-long stalemate failed.

 

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The announcement of Putin's talks in Moscow came shortly after international mediators from France, Russia and the United States made their first attempt to resolve the conflict in Geneva.

 

These countries are forming the "Minsk Group" which has been trying to find a solution to the Karabakh conflict since the 1990s, but they have failed to stop the spread of fighting, including the deadliest clashes in decades.

 

But talks in Geneva went ahead without Armenia, which refused to take part in the fighting, and no public statement was made’ after the closed-door talks.

 

As fighting resumes, both sides accuse it of shelling other populated areas, displacing thousands.

 

A few days after intermittent shelling of the disputed region's administrative center, Stepanakert, there were signs of widespread digging and cracking ordinances, but the city remained calm Friday morning, an AFP reporter said.

 

Armenia on Thursday accused Azerbaijan of shelling the famous Ghazanchetsots (Holy Saver) church, which caused a crack in its roof and injured several journalists.

 

Armenian ombudsman Artak Beglaryan told AFP earlier this week that the new fighting had displaced about 140,000 Karabakh residents and forced 90 percent of its women and children out of their homes.

 

Dozens of civilians have been confirmed’ dead and the Armenian side has acknowledged 350 military casualties, while Azerbaijan has not acknowledged any casualties in it's military.

 

Turkey's strong support for Azerbaijan has raised fears in the West that the conflict could turn into a full-blown war with Moscow over Ankara, which has a military agreement with Armenia.

 

Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron are among the world leaders who this week condemned the alleged deployment of pro-Turkish fighters from Syria and Libya to Karabakh and Iran.

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