The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to meet in Moscow for negotiations on Friday, hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin extended an invitation to host peace talks between the two warring nations, AFP reported.
“Baku and Yerevan have confirmed their participation in the consultations in Moscow,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told AFP. “Active preparations are underway.”
Putin called for an end to the dispute on “humanitarian grounds” after hundreds of lives were claimed as a result of a recent resurgence of bitter clashes between the neighbouring nations over the long-disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
“The President of Russia is issuing a call to halt the fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh on humanitarian grounds in order to exchange dead bodies and prisoners,” an earlier statement from the Kremlin read.
On September 27, fighting broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan around the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh and the Armenian Defense Ministry said two Azerbaijani helicopters were shot down.
While the US, France and Russia jointly condemned the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and called for ceasefire, Turkey — an ally of Azerbaijan — dismissed demands for a ceasefire.
Here are the top updates about the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict
‘Armenia, Azerbaijan moving towards a truce soon,’ says France
Armenia and Azerbaijan are moving towards a truce to end the recent resurgence of fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, the French Presidency told AFP on Friday. A peace deal is expected to be brokered in the coming days.
“We are moving towards a truce tonight or tomorrow but it’s still fragile,” a spokesperson for President Emmanuel Macron told AFP.
Macron spoke on the phone with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan late on Thursday and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev on Friday. France is set to preside over truce talks, jointly along with Russia and the United States.
Iran warns of regional war as Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict intensifies
Calling for a ceasefire, Iran has warned that the renewed fighting between its neighbours Azerbaijan and Armenia could escalate into a full fledged regional war, BBC reported.
“We must be attentive that the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan does not become a regional war,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told reporters on Wednesday. “Peace is the basis of our work and we hope to restore stability to the region in a peaceful way.”
President Rouhani added that it was “totally unacceptable” for stray shells or missiles to land on Iranian soil, BBC reported. Earlier reports claimed that shells had landed in a few villages in Iran, located near its northern border with Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Nagorno-Karabakh says 26 soldiers killed; military toll rises to 376
The defence ministry of the Nagorno-Karabakh on Friday said that another 26 soldiers were killed, pushing the toll to 376 since fighting with Azeri forces erupted nearly two weeks ago, Reuters reported.
According to Reuters, the conflict has surged to its worst level since the 1990s, when around 30,000 people were killed.
Armenia claims historic cathedral hit by Azerbaijan shelling; Azerbaijan denies allegation
Armenian authorities accused Azerbaijan of shelling the historic Holy Saviour Cathedral located in Nagorno-Karabakh on Thursday, DW reported. However, rejecting the allegations, Azerbaijan’s Defence Ministry said that its army “doesn’t target historical, cultural and, especially, religious buildings and monuments.”
According to Armenia, the shelling badly damaged the dome and interior of the age-old church, which is also known as the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral. Local reports claimed that several children and adults were present in the cathedral at the time of the attack, but no one was killed or wounded.
The cathedral was hit again several hours later, this time severely injuring two Russian journalists, Armenian authorities said. The country’s foreign ministry called the attack a “monstrous crime and a challenge to the civilised humankind”, DW reported. The ministry said that an attempt to destroy a religious building should amount to a war crime.
Status quo has to be changed, says Turkey’s Foreign Minister
Commenting on the ongoing conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the “status quo has to be changed”, AP reported. So far, Turkey has openly backed Azerbaijan in the conflict and has offered to provide the country with military assistance.
Speaking at the annual Globsec forum in Bratislava, Cavusoglu added that Turkey respects the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
Half of Nagorno-Karabakh’s population displaced by fighting, rebels say
At least half of the population of the long-disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region have been displaced since clashes broke out between Armenian separatists and Azerbaijan, rebel officials told AFP.
“According to our preliminary estimates, some 50% of Karabakh’s population and 90% of women and children — some 70,000 to 75,000 people — have been displaced,” Karabakh rights ombudsman Artak Beglaryan said.
Nearly 300 people have died since the recent fighting erupted between the two countries last week. The death toll includes at least 47 civilians, DW reported.
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