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Pashinian Ready To Meet Aliyev


Lithuania - Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian meets with members of the Armenian community in Vilnius, October 3, 2021.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on Sunday that he is ready to meet with Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev for talks on confidence-building measures in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.

Aliyev expressed readiness for such a meeting on Friday. “I am ready to hold talks with Mr. Pashinian at any moment, whenever he is ready,” told the Spanish EFE news agency. “I am open to discussions and believe they could be a good sign that the war is over.”

Pashinian responded to the offer at the start of an official visit to Lithuania. Meeting with members of the local Armenian community, he said Yerevan and Baku should “try to move forward with small steps to build some trust” between them.

Pashinian said he is particularly interested in securing the release of dozens of Armenian soldiers and civilians held by Azerbaijan nearly one year after Russia brokered a ceasefire that stopped the 44-day war in Karabakh. He said to that end the Armenian side is ready to release more maps of Armenian minefields in districts around Karabakh that were retaken by Azerbaijani forces during and after the war.

“I am ready to take all the maps in our possession [to the meeting with Aliyev] and am calling on the Azerbaijani president to bring along all of our prisoners,” added Pashinian.

Armenia already provided Baku such maps this summer in return for the release of 30 Armenian prisoners of war.

Aliyev claimed that those maps are not accurate and said Yerevan should provide more detailed information about all Armenian minefields along the former “line of contact” around Karabakh. “If the Armenian side does that … we will respond in kind,” he told EFE without elaborating.

Aliyev and Pashinian most recently held talks in Moscow last January in a meeting hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The meeting focused on the opening of transport links between Armenia and Azerbaijan envisaged by the Karabakh ceasefire.

Aliyev repeatedly threatened in the following months to forcibly open a transport “corridor” connecting Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave through Armenia’s Syunik province. He also said that Azerbaijan’s victory in the war put an end to the Karabakh conflict.

Aliyev offered to meet with Pashinian one week after the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers met in New York in the presence of the U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.

In a joint statement on those talks, the three mediators said they proposed “specific focused measures to deescalate the situation and possible next steps.” They also reaffirmed their readiness to help the conflicting sides “find comprehensive solutions to all remaining issues related to or resulting from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”

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