Azerbaijani and ethnic Armenian forces said Wednesday that they were observing a cease-fire following four days of fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said its forces were strictly observing the cease-fire around the disputed territory. The ministry accused Armenian forces of breaking the truce several times Wednesday by firing mortars at Azerbaijani positions, adding that Azerbaijani forces had not returned fire.
A Nagorno-Karabakh military spokesman insisted the region’s forces had strictly respected the cease-fire.
Officials of both governments declared the cease-fire Tuesday in Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin had separate phone calls Tuesday with the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia, urging them to honor the cease-fire.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met in Baku with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Wednesday, offering to help ensure that the truce will last and to contribute to a political settlement. Lavrov is set to meet with his Azerbaijani and Iranian counterparts in Baku on Thursday, while Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will visit the Armenian capital of Yerevan on the same day.
Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but is dominated by ethnic Armenians; it has been under control of local ethnic Armenian forces and the Armenian military for years.
Conflict over the region broke out in 1988, when it claimed independence from Azerbaijan and said it would join Armenia. Clashes led to a cease-fire in 1994. There have been occasional skirmishes since then, and the recent fighting, in which 63 people were killed, was among the most heated.
Source: Voice of America