Azerbaijan and Armenia accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invitation to hold peace talks with their respective foreign ministers in Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Friday.
"Baku and Yerevan have confirmed their participation in the consultations in Moscow," Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
"Active preparations are underway," she said, with the talks expected to take place later on Friday with the two countries' foreign ministers.
The Russian president invited the top diplomats of the two countries, which have been involved in clashes over the Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh.
"The president of Russia is issuing a call to halt the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh on humanitarian grounds in order to exchange dead bodies and prisoners," the Kremlin said in a statement Thursday.
Putin's invitation came after he held a series of phone talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.
Earlier this week, he said Russia does not have an obligation to defend Armenia, as its conflict with Azerbaijan is not being waged in Armenian territory.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would mediate the peace talks, according to the Kremlin.
Relations between Yerevan and Baku have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.
New clashes erupted on Sept. 27, but international calls for a halt to fighting have gone unanswered. Armenia has continued its attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces, who are the rightful owners of the occupied region.
The Minsk Group – co-chaired by France, Russia and the U.S. – was set up in 1992 by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but to no avail. A cease-fire was agreed upon in 1994.
Many world powers, including Russia, France and the U.S., have called for an immediate cease-fire. Turkey, meanwhile, has supported Baku's right to self-defense.
Aliyev has said Turkey must be involved in the process to resolve the decadeslong conflict.
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