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U.S., Russia, France Urge End To Karabakh Fighting


NAGORNO-KARABAKH - A ball lies on the ground in front of a house damaged by shelling in the town of Martuni, October 1, 2020

The presidents of the United States, Russia and France on Thursday urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to stop fierce fighting around Nagorno-Karabakh and unconditionally agree to resume peace talks.

“We call for an immediate cessation of hostilities between the relevant military forces,” Presidents Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron said in a joint statement.

“We also call on the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to commit without delay to resuming substantive negotiations, in good faith and without preconditions, under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.”

The group co-headed by the U.S., Russia and France has long been spearheading international efforts to broker a solution to the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute.

Putin and Macron discussed ways of restoring the ceasefire regime in the Karabakh conflict zone in a phone call late on Wednesday.

“They pointed out that there is no alternative to a diplomatic and political settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis,” the Kremlin said in a statement. “In this context, they discussed the practical aspects of their further interaction, primarily within the OSCE Minsk Group format.”

AZERBAIJAN -- Local residents stand in a pit used as shelter from alleged Armenian shelling in the city of Terter, 30 September 2020.
AZERBAIJAN -- Local residents stand in a pit used as shelter from alleged Armenian shelling in the city of Terter, 30 September 2020.

Russia’s Security Council discussed the situation in the conflict zone on Thursday at a meeting chaired by Putin. The TASS news agency quoted Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, as telling journalists that the council “again expressed deep concern over the continuing large-scale hostilities.”

Macron voiced such concerns when he addressed the press during a visit to Latvia on Wednesday. He also denounced Turkey’s “dangerous” statements in support of Azerbaijan, saying that they are encouraging Baku to continue military action.

Ankara rejected the criticism and accused France of siding with Armenia in the Karabakh conflict.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed on Thursday the U.S., French and Russian calls for an end to the worst fighting in Karabakh since 1994. Speaking in the Turkish parliament, Erdogan said the three mediating powers should instead “demand that the Armenians pull their troops out of Azerbaijan.”

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said Wednesday that Baku will halt the hostilities if Armenia agrees to “unconditionally, fully and immediately leave our lands.”

NAGORNO KARABAKH -- People hide in a basement used as shelter from alleged Azerbaijani shelling in Stepanakert, 30 September 2020
NAGORNO KARABAKH -- People hide in a basement used as shelter from alleged Azerbaijani shelling in Stepanakert, 30 September 2020

Meanwhile, fighting along the Karabakh “line of contact” continued for a fifth day, with the warring sides accusing each other of shelling frontline positions and civilian settlements. Neither side reported fresh offensive or counteroffensive operations there.

Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army claimed to have shot two Azerbaijani warplanes, three helicopters and six drones. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry denied that.

Also, two correspondents for France’s Le Monde daily and an Armenian cameraman were reportedly wounded during Azerbaijani shelling of the Karabakh town of Martuni. One of the French journalists underwent surgery at a hospital in Stepanakert, according to an Armenian government statement.

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