Putin defends Karabakh deal after criticism from France

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MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin defended on Tuesday, November 17 a ceasefire agreement he had negotiated between Azerbaijan and Armenia after France asked him to correct “ambiguities” in the text.

Putin said the deal laid the groundwork for “long-term normalization” for the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

However, he admitted that the cease-fire, which allowed Azerbaijan to consolidate major territorial gains after several weeks of bitter fighting, had not solved the “problem” of the final status of Karabakh.

France has previously urged Russia to clarify Turkey’s role, make arrangements for foreign fighters and put in place a plan to discuss the region’s future status.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Parliament in Paris the issues would be discussed at a Moscow meeting of the so-called Minsk Group – a decades-old panel discussion looking for of a solution to the conflict, co-chaired by France and Russia. and the United States.

The US State Department echoed France’s point of view, saying there were still questions the Russians needed to clarify about the deal, “and that included the role of the Turks.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on a visit to Georgia, which borders both sides to the conflict, said the ceasefire was just the first step towards creating a peaceful settlement.

He urged all parties to start speaking within the framework of the Minsk Group.

But Putin defended the deal, telling Russian state television: “The fact that hostilities have ended and there is an agreement to unblock transport, restore economic ties is extremely important.” .

Agreeing that there was a problem in deciding the final status of Karabakh, he added: “What happens next should be decided in the future, or by future leaders, future participants in this process. “

Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan populated by ethnic Armenians who broke control of Baku in a war as the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s.

Under the ceasefire, Russian troops have deployed to the enclave since last week to keep the peace

Putin said Turkey, which supports Baku, will be associated with the peacekeeping process through a joint control center with Russia that will use drones, but Turkish troops will not enter the Upper -Karabakh.

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