Moscow to Host Nagorno-Karabakh Peace Talks as Fighting Continues
Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to participate in Moscow-mediated talks to end the fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry said Friday. As deadly clashes over the breakaway Azerbaijani region continued overnight Thursday, foreign ministers of both countries accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invitation to meet for the first negotiations since fighting erupted Sept. 27.”Baku and Yerevan have confirmed their participation,” AFP quoted Russian ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying. The preparations were underway, she said.Armenia and AzerbaijanThe Kremlin said in a statement late Thursday that “following a series of telephone discussions between the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan,” Putin called for a halt to fighting “in order to exchange dead bodies and prisoners.” Armenian and Azerbaijani forces had ignored calls in the past two weeks by the United States, France and Russia for an immediate cease-fire, as fighting escalated to levels not seen since the 1990s. The three countries co-chair the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Minsk Group, which is trying to find a peaceful solution. The predominantly ethnic Armenian territory declared its independence from Azerbaijan in 1991 during the collapse of the Soviet Union, sparking a war that claimed the lives of as many as 30,000 people before a 1994 cease-fire. Peace efforts in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, mediated by the Minsk Group, collapsed in 2010.