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Russia, Turkey Hold More Talks On Karabakh De-Escalation


TURKEY -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu meet in Antalya, March 29, 2019

The foreign ministers of Russia and Turkey again spoke by phone on Thursday as the two countries continued high-level consultations on ways of stopping hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The phone call came one day after a conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan that also focused on the Karabakh conflict. The Kremlin said the two leaders “confirmed the importance” of the conflicting parties’ compliance with the Armenian-Azerbaijani humanitarian ceasefire agreement brokered by Moscow on October 10.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a similar statement on Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s talks with Turkey’s Mevlut Cavusoglu. It said Lavrov and Cavusoglu agreed on the need for an immediate halt to the ongoing hostilities and the launch of a “ceasefire verification mechanism.”

“We hope that such a mechanism will be launched soon,” Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, told reporters in Moscow. She said military officials should meet and discuss it “without delay.”

Lavrov’s talks with Cavusoglu came amid continued heavy fighting along the Karabakh “line of contact.” Armenia has accused Turkey of encouraging Azerbaijan to continue its military offensive.

For its part, the Turkish Foreign Ministry claimed on Thursday that Armenia “continues to disregard the humanitarian ceasefire declared on October 10.”

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry statement, Lavrov and Cavusoglu also stressed the importance of coordinating “efforts to resume the negotiating process” which would aim to achieve “real results.”

In his phone call with Erdogan, Putin also reiterated Russian concerns about the reported deployment of Turkish-backed Syrian mercenaries in the Karabakh conflict zone. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu likewise raised the matter with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar when they spoke by phone on Monday.

Speaking in Ankara earlier on Wednesday, Erdogan denied reports that Turkey has recruited and sent allied Syrian fighters to fight in Karabakh on the Azerbaijani side.

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