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Armenia, Azerbaijan agree on ceasefire after talks in Moscow

Armenia, Azerbaijan agree on ceasefire after talks in Moscow
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Armenia and Azerbaijan on Saturday agreed to a Russia-mediated cease-fire following fighting in the contested area of Nagorno-Karabakh, although both sides have already accused each other of breaking the truce with new attacks. 

According to the Associated Press, the agreement came overnight following 10 hours of Moscow-based talks brokered by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The cease-fire, which officially took place in the territory in the early afternoon local time, was meant to be the first steps in an end to the ongoing conflict. 

However, the AP reported that minutes after the cease-fire took effect, the Armenian military accused Azerbaijan of shelling the area near the town of Kapan in southeastern Armenia and killing one civilian. 

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In response, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry called Armenia’s claim “provocation,” and subsequently argued that Armenia had broken the truce by attacking the Terter and Agdam regions of Azerbaijan with missiles and attempting to launch offensives in the Agdere-Terter and the Fizuli-Jabrail areas. 

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said that Armenia’s alleged actions have created a situation in which “conditions for implementing the humanitarian cease-fire are currently missing,” according to the AP. 

Armenia’s Defense Ministry denied any truce violations by the Armenian forces.

The area of Nagorno-Karabakh is a majority-Armenian region that falls within Azerbaijan, which broke away following the end of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the establishment of the independent countries of Azerbaijan and Armenia.

While the territory has since remained a contested area, recent fighting between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces broke out on Sept. 27, since leaving hundreds of people dead in what the AP called “the biggest escalation of the decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh since a separatist war there ended in 1994.” 

Russia has co-sponsored peace talks on the territory with the United States and France as co-chairs of the Minsk Group, part of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

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On Monday, Deputy Secretary of State Steve Biegun spoke separately with the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia, calling for an immediate cease-fire and return to negotiations. 

Biegun expressed “deep concern over reports of the escalation of military action and expanding theater of operations” throughout more than a week of fighting between the two sides, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. 

“The Deputy Secretary stressed to the Foreign Ministers that there is no military solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” Ortagus said as Biegun took part in the ongoing Minsk Group talks.