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U.S., Russia, France Step Up Calls For Karabakh Ceasefire


FRANCE -- French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov attend a joint news conference after a meeting at the Quai d'Orsay in Paris, November 27, 2018

The United States, Russia and France, stepped up late on Monday their calls for an immediate halt to the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, saying that its growing impact on civilians poses an “unacceptable threat to the stability of the region.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Foreign Ministers Sergei Lavrov of Russia and Jean-Yves Le Drian of France condemned “in the strongest terms” the escalation of violence in the Karabakh conflict zone.

“The Ministers stress unconditionally that recent attacks allegedly targeting civilian centers … and the disproportionate nature of such attacks constitute an unacceptable threat to the stability of the region,” they said in a joint statement.

They urged the conflicting parties to accept an “immediate and unconditional ceasefire.”

The presidents of the three countries co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group already called for an “immediate cessation of hostilities” in a joint statement issued on October 1. They also urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to “commit without delay to resuming substantive negotiations.”

Armenia welcomed the U.S., Russian and French presidents’ statement, saying it is willing to engage in peace talks mediated by the Minsk Group co-chairs.

But Azerbaijan effectively rejected the mediators’ appeal. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev was reported to say on Monday that the mediators must first give Baku guarantees on the “withdrawal of Armenian troops from Azerbaijan’s occupied territories.”

Pompeo, Lavrov and Le Drian stressed that their countries are “determined to exercise fully their mandate” to help find a peaceful solution to the Karabakh conflict. “As such, they will firmly continue to advance their engagement with the sides, and urge them to commit now to resuming the settlement process on the basis of existing core principles and relevant international documents well-known by both parties,” concluded their statement.

Speaking in Moscow earlier on Monday, Lavrov said the three mediating powers should not only issue joint statements butt also work out “concrete steps” that could stop the war in Karabakh. He said he has discussed that with Le Drian.

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