Moscow Hosts Armenia, Azerbaijan Truce Talks As Fighting Rages

 Moscow Hosts Armenia, Azerbaijan Truce Talks As Fighting Rages

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Russia’s foreign ministry confirmed that senior diplomats from the two countries are joining talks in the Russian capital following a late-night appeal on Thursday from President Vladimir Putin.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to their first talks on ending the fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, Russia said Friday, as fierce clashes over the disputed region showed no signs of abating.

Russia’s foreign ministry confirmed that senior diplomats from the two countries are joining talks in the Russian capital following a late-night appeal on Thursday from President Vladimir Putin.

“Baku and Yerevan have confirmed their participation,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told AFP, adding that preparations were underway.

Armenian and Azerbaijan defence officials said fierce clashes continued overnight Thursday to Friday and reported further civilian deaths after Putin announced the meeting in Moscow and appealed for a ceasefire on humanitarian grounds.

Fighting erupted between Armenian separatists and Azerbaijan’s army late last month over the disputed region in Azerbaijan that declared independence following a war in the 1990s.

Both sides have dismissed mounting calls to end the fighting that has claimed some 400 lives including dozens of civilians, and Azerbaijan has said it is determined to capture the majority-Armenian province.

The Kremlin said late Thursday that following a series of calls with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, Putin was calling for an end to hostilities in Karabakh “in order to exchange dead bodies and prisoners”.

The two countries’ foreign ministers were invited to the Russian capital to broker an end to the hostilities in talks mediated by the Russian foreign ministry, the Kremlin said.

Diplomatic efforts to find a lasting solution to the decades-old stalemate have faltered since a precarious ceasefire was agreed in 1994.

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