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Pompeo calls for Azerbaijan, Armenia to implement cease-fire

Pompeo calls for Azerbaijan, Armenia to implement cease-fire
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Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Brazil's OECD candidacy is best chance for reform Watch live: Pompeo news conference MORE on Tuesday called on Azerbaijan and Armenia to respect a cease-fire agreement and condemned the targeting of civilians on both sides of a weeks-long conflict that was sparked by fighting along the border of the contested territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“The United States calls on Azerbaijan and Armenia to implement their commitments to a ceasefire as agreed and cease targeting civilian areas, such as Ganja and Stepanakert,” Pompeo said in a tweet. “We deplore the loss of human life and remain committed to a peaceful settlement.”

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Pompeo’s tweet follows a statement by the co-chairs of the Minsk Group Russia, France and the U.S. who on Tuesday called for the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia to meet the full obligations of the cease-fire mediated in Moscow over the weekend “in order to prevent catastrophic consequences for the region.”

Azerbaijan and Armenia have traded accusations of targeting civilian areas over the past two weeks of fighting, which has impacted civilian areas and extended beyond the borders of the contested territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, a majority-ethnic Armenian enclave that is supported by Armenia but is within sovereign Azerbaijan.

Armenia’s foreign ministry has said Azerbaijan has consistently shelled the majority enclaves of Nagorno-Karabakh's capital city Stepanakert, among other areas, resulting in civilian casualties. 

Meanwhile, the Azeri foreign ministry said that 10 civilians were killed, and “many more injured, including children,” in shelling by Armenian forces on Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second largest city, on Sunday.

The death toll amid the fighting is believed to be about 600, including military and civilian deaths, The Associated Press reported on Tuesday. A Russian-mediated cease-fire over the weekend fell apart as both Armenia and Azerbaijan accused the other of violating the agreement minutes after it was expected to take effect.