US, Russia, France call for ceasefire after fighting resumes in disputed Caucasus region

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France, Russia and the United States on Thursday called for an immediate ceasefire between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces around Nagorno-Karabakh and urged rival parties to resume negotiations without delay.The move came as the death toll rose in the most violent clashes since the 1990s around the region – part of Azerbaijan but ruled by its mostly Armenian inhabitants.

“We call for an immediate cessation of hostilities between the military forces concerned,” the French, Russian and US presidents said in a joint statement in their capacity as co-chairs of the Minsk group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE ).

“We also call on the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to immediately commit to resuming substantive negotiations, in good faith and without preconditions, under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. ”

Previously, Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the crisis with his country’s Security Council, the Kremlin spokesman said.

One view shows a building in Martakert, which, according to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, was damaged by an airstrike by the Azeri armed forces during the fighting in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. (Armenian Foreign Affairs / Reuters)

Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron also discussed how the Minsk group, which is acting as a broker in the conflict, could help end the fighting, the Kremlin said.

Russia also offered to host the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan for talks on ending the fighting, which erupted on Sunday in the resumption of a decades-old conflict over the enclave. mountainous.

France seeks to repatriate injured journalists

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that it was unacceptable that the three countries were involved in the search for a ceasefire in a disputed region of the Caucasus as they neglected the issues there for about 30 years old.

Erdogan also reiterated that Armenia must withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh for there to be lasting peace in the region where Azerbaijani and Armenian forces clashed for five days.

A car used by journalists is seen after being damaged in a bombing Thursday in the town of Martuni in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. (Armenian Unified Infocenter / Reuters)

Dozens of people have reportedly been killed and hundreds injured since then. Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan in a 1991-94 war that killed 30,000 people, but is not internationally recognized as an independent republic.

Azerbaijan’s attorney general’s office said Armenian shelling killed a civilian in the Azeri city of Terter on Thursday morning and severely damaged the train station.

The Armenian Defense Ministry spokeswoman said Azeri forces attempted to regroup but were prevented from doing so.

Armenia said two French nationals working for French newspaper Le Monde were injured in the Azeri bombardment of the Armenian city of Martuni and taken to hospital.

“The crisis center of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is mobilized … to organize their repatriation as quickly as possible,” said Macron on his arrival in Brussels for a summit of the European Union.

“A medical plane is ready to go. We are doing everything to stabilize the wounded on the spot before allowing their evacuation. ”

The French Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “We cannot stress enough the gravity and the dangerousness of the situation in this zone of active conflict. The French authorities strictly advise against going there ”.

Le Monde editor-in-chief Luc Bronner told Reuters that a journalist and a photographer were injured, but did not name the couple.

Television footage broadcast by Ankara-based Anadolu agency showed journalists taking cover behind a wall in an unidentified location in Nagorno-Karabakh after what it described as Armenian bombing. Loud explosions could be heard in the background.

Key energy corridor

The re-eruption of a “frozen conflict” dating back to the collapse of the Soviet Union has raised concerns about stability in the South Caucasus, a corridor for pipelines transporting oil and gas to world markets , and raised concerns that Russia and Turkey are regional powers could be attracted.

The Kremlin has said there is no alternative to using “political and diplomatic methods” to resolve the crisis.

(CBC News)

Macron’s office said that he and Putin “also share their concern over Turkey’s sending Syrian mercenaries to Nagorno-Karabakh.”

Turkey, a close ally of the predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan, has said it will “do whatever it takes” to support Azerbaijan, but has denied sending mercenaries.

Macron, whose country is home to around 600,000 people of Armenian origin, accused Turkey of “warlike” rhetoric.

A German government source said European Union leaders will discuss the conflict at a summit that begins in Brussels on Thursday.

The small French Minister of European Affairs, Clément Beaune, said that the EU must give “signals of resolution” against Turkey and that this could mean possible sanctions. The union is also in conflict with Turkey’s maritime exploration in the Mediterranean, which has led to a dispute with Greece.

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