Armenia, Azerbaijan accept new ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

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Armenia and Azerbaijan on Saturday agreed on a new humanitarian ceasefire from midnight in battle over Azerbaijan’s ethnic Armenian-controlled enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, both countries said in identical statements.

Azerbaijan and Armenia had earlier on Saturday accused each other of new attacks in violation of a week-old Russian-brokered ceasefire that had not halted the worst fighting in the South Caucasus since the 1990s.

Baku said 13 civilians had been killed and more than 50 wounded in the city of Ganja by an Armenian missile attack, while Yerevan accused Azerbaijan of continued shelling.

The fighting is the worst in the region since Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces went to war in the 1990s over Nagorno-Karabakh, an area internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but populated and ruled by ethnic Armenians.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who mediated the ceasefire a week ago, spoke by telephone with his Armenian and Azeri counterparts on Saturday, stressing that the ceasefire should be observed, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The Foreign Ministry of Nagorno-Karabakh said in a statement following the announcement: “We welcome the efforts of OSCE Minsk Group chairmen as well as Armenia to achieve a ceasefire in the Azerbaijani – Karabakh conflict zone and to reduce tensions.

“Nagorno-Karabakh reaffirms its readiness to maintain the terms of the humanitarian ceasefire on a reciprocal basis … according to the Moscow Declaration of October 10 and the agreements of October 17.”

The Minsk Group is led by Russia, France and the United States.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the ceasefire should be unconditional and strictly respected by both sides.

“This ceasefire must be unconditional and strictly observed by both parties. France will pay close attention to this and will remain committed so that hostilities cease permanently and that credible talks can begin quickly,” the president’s office said in a statement.

( Jowharwith REUTERS)

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