Russia offers to host talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan amid ongoing fighting between the two over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held separate telephone conversations with his Azeri and Armenian counterparts on Wednesday, reaffirming Moscow’s readiness to organize necessary contacts, including by hosting a next meeting of the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Russia.
Lavrov also called for a de-escalation in ongoing fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed region.
The statement cited Russia’s top diplomat as saying Moscow would continue to work both independently and together with other representatives of the Minsk group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to mediate in the conflict.
Earlier on Wednesday, Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan had said time was not right for Moscow-mediated peace talks, saying it was inappropriate “to speak of a summit between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia at a time of intensive hostilities.”
The latest conflict erupted between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region on Sunday. The territory is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but has an Armenian population.
Scores have been killed and hundreds wounded in the worst spate of fighting between the two former Soviet republics since the 1990s.
Each side blames the other for initiating the fighting in the Caucasus mountains.
Russia: Foreign terrorists deployed to Karabakh
The Russian Foreign Ministry separately expressed concern about the deployment of foreign terrorists in the conflict.
“Fighters of illegal armed groups including from Syria and Libya are being deployed to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone in order to directly take part in fighting,” the ministry said on Wednesday. “We are deeply concerned.”
The Russian ministry also urged the countries involved to prevent the use of “foreign terrorists and mercenaries” in the dispute.
Turkey strongly backs Azerbaijan in the region and has historically poor relations with Armenia.
For years, the two neighbors have been locked in a conflict over Azerbaijan’s breakaway, mainly ethnic Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Though a ceasefire was agreed in 1994, Baku and Yerevan continue to accuse each other of shooting attacks around the enclave.
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