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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Armenian foreign minister visits Moscow for Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire talks

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan's car arrives at the Russian foreign ministry [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 October, 2020

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Russia's FM said said countries 'cannot dally' in finding mechanisms to verify the ceasefire and help end the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan visited Moscow on Monday for talks with his Russian counterpart on a ceasefire deal brokered by Russia to end hostilities in the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The ceasefire came into effect on Saturday but was immediately challenged by mutual claims of violations that persisted throughout the weekend and continued on Monday morning.

After the meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov emphasised the need to develop verification mechanisms to ensure the ceasefire is not violated.

"Because of the acute situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, the acuity of the problem of prisoners of wars, detainees, and of course the need to return the bodies of the deceased to their loved ones, we cannot dally in producing such verification mechanisms (for the ceasefire)," Lavrov said.

He added that Russia was working with the two other co-chairs of the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe) Minsk group - France and the United States - on developing the mechanisms, together with the International Red Cross.

Lavrov added that Moscow had been in contact with Ankara about the negotiations of a ceasefire agreement before it was announced on 10 October, and that Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had confirmed Turkey's support for the document.When asked to comment on a suggestion by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to allow Turkey to play a more prominent role in the negotiations, both Lavrov and Mnatsakanyan said that Saturday's agreement stipulated that negotiations would take place under the auspices of the co-chairs of the Minsk group.

"Now we must ensure it is implemented in reality and that's what we're working on," Lavrov added.

If the truce holds, it would mark a major diplomatic coup for Russia, which has a security pact with Armenia but has also cultivated warm ties with Azerbaijan.

Both Armenia and Azerbaijan on Monday reiterated their commitment to the ceasefire deal and accused each other of violating it.

The two nations have been locked for decades in a conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, where a separatist war was fought in the early 1990s until three years after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

The region in the Caucasus Mountains of about 4,400 square kilometres (1,700 square miles), is 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Armenian border.

It has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces and the Armenian military since the 1994 end of a full-scale separatist war that killed about 30,000 people and displaced an estimated 1 million.

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