Armenia-Azerbaijan talks on Karabakh begin in Moscow
Armenia and Azerbaijan on Oct. 9 began their first high-level talks after nearly two weeks of clashes over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
"It has begun," Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Facebook, posting a picture of the foreign ministers of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan sitting at a round table in Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia to Moscow for peace talks on Oct. 9.
“The president of Russia is issuing a call to halt the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh on humanitarian grounds in order to exchange dead bodies and prisoners,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
The statement said Putin held a series of phone talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
It said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would mediate the peace talks.
Aliyev on Oct. 9 said he was ready to return to talks over Nagorno-Karabakh, but he was not willing to make concessions to Armenia and no other country could influence Baku's will in the conflict.
Aliyev, speaking during a televised address to the nation, said there could be no talks if Armenia continued to insist that Nagorno-Karabakh was part of Armenian territory.
He said Azerbaijan's use of force had changed the facts on the ground and that he had proved there was a military solution to the dispute.
Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.
New clashes erupted on Sept. 27, but international calls for a halt to the fighting have gone unanswered. Armenia has continued its attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces.
The OSCE Minsk Group - co-chaired by France, Russia and the U.S. - was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but to no avail. A cease-fire, however, was agreed upon in 1994.
Turkey has condemned the Armenian occupation and vowed support for Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev has said Turkey must be involved in the process to resolve the decades-long conflict.