U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have again discussed the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, reportedly agreeing to jointly bolster the shaky ceasefire there.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the two men spoke about the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute along with the conflict in Syria during a fresh phone conversation on Sunday.
“The heads of the [U.S. and Russian] diplomatic agencies welcomed the agreement on the ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone and agreed to foster the normalization of the situation in the region,” read a ministry statement. It gave no other details.
The U.S. State Department did not issue a readout of the phone call as of Monday morning.
Kerry and Lavrov already held urgent phone talks on April 4 two days after the outbreak of the bloodiest fighting in over two decades between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces along “the line of contact” around Karabakh. They reportedly voiced serious concern at the escalation and vowed to step up joint efforts by the United States, Russia and France to broker a Karabakh settlement.
The heavy fighting, which left more than 100 soldiers from both sides death, largely stopped on April 5 after Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s top army generals reached a ceasefire agreement in Moscow.
As the Russian-brokered truce entered into force, U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group traveled to Baku at the start of an urgent tour of the conflict zone. The mediators visited Stepanakert and Yerevan later in the week. They said in the Armenian capital on Saturday that the conflicting parties have pledged to respect the ceasefire.
They said the parties also assured the mediating troika that they are committed to restarting negotiations on a mutually acceptable political agreement to end the Karabakh conflict.