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Armenia and Azerbaijan agree humanitarian ceasefire in Karabakh

A building destroyed by shelling in Stepanakert. Photo: Achilleas Zavallis, The Guardian. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MOSCOW, Oct 18, 2020, TASS. Armenia and Azerbaijan have negotiated a humanitarian ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh starting at 00.00 on Sunday, October 18, the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement published on its site on Saturday, TASS reported.

“The Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan have agreed to a humanitarian truce as of October 18th, 00h00 local time,” the statement says.

“This decision was taken following the statement of the Presidents of the French Republic, the Russian Federation and the United States of America, representing the co-chair countries of the OSCE Minsk Group, of 1 October 2020, the Statement by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group of 5 October, and in line with Moscow Statement of 10 October 2020,” it reads.

Earlier on Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held talks with his counterparts from Armenia and Azerbaijan by phone.

Renewed clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia erupted on September 27, with intense battles raging in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The area experienced flare-ups of violence in the summer of 2014, in April 2016 and this past July. Azerbaijan and Armenia have imposed martial law and launched mobilization efforts. Both parties to the conflict have reported casualties, among them civilians.

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the highland region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory that had been part of Azerbaijan before the Soviet Union break-up, but primarily populated by ethnic Armenians, broke out in February 1988 after the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region announced its withdrawal from the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1992-1994, tensions boiled over and exploded into large-scale military action for control over the enclave and seven adjacent territories after Azerbaijan lost control of them. Talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement have been ongoing since 1992 under the OSCE Minsk Group, led by its three co-chairs – Russia, France and the United States.

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