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Armenian, Azeri Leaders Say Ready To Meet


Germany -- Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian (R) and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev meet in Munich, February 15, 2020.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev expressed readiness on Monday to meet in Moscow for urgent talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The two men were interviewed by the official Russian news agency TASS as heavy fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces continued in and around Karabakh.

“The Karabakh conflict must be resolved by exclusively peaceful means … And I’m ready to make every effort to achieve such a result, including to travel [to Moscow,] meet and talk,” said Pashinian.

He said that Armenia remains committed to a “compromise” peace deal. “If there is no such readiness on the opposite side we are ready to fight till the end for our people, our compatriots in Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said.

Aliyev said, for his part, that Baku is “prepared for any contacts” with Yerevan. “We are always ready to meet in Moscow or any other place to end the conflict and reach a settlement,” he told TASS.

Aliyev noted at the same time that he has received “no such invitation” from Russia yet.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hosted on October 9-10 talks between his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts that resulted in an agreement to stop hostilities in the conflict zone. However, the fighting has continued since then, with each side accusing the other of violating the agreement.

Lavrov said earlier on Monday that Moscow keeps pressing the sides to stop the war and resume “substantive” peace talks that will center on a framework peace accord proposed by the Russian, French and U.S. co-chairs of the Minsk Group.

Aliyev said that unlike Armenia’s current leadership he supports the proposed settlement that calls, among other things, for Armenian withdrawal from districts around Karabakh before an agreement on the disputed territory’s status, the main bone of contention.

Pashinian put the emphasis on Azerbaijan’s recognition of the Karabakh Armenians’ right to self-determination. This issue is of “strategic importance” to the Armenian side, he said.

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