Armenia, Azerbaijan agree anew to ceasefire: US

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov [L] and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. [Twitter account of Jeyhun Bayramov]

Armenia and Azerbaijan have again agreed to respect a “humanitarian ceasefire” in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, effective Monday (26 October), the US State Department announced.

Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun met Saturday with the two countries’ foreign ministers and the co-chairs of the Minsk Group, the department said in a joint statement on Sunday.

Washington, along with France and Russia, is part of the Minsk Group, which was formed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to be the main mediator in the conflict.

The statement said the ceasefire would take effect at 8:00 am local time (04H00 GMT) on Monday after an earlier ceasefire brought a brief lull Saturday before each side accused the other of violating it.

The latest outbreak of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, recognized internationally as part of Azerbaijan but controlled by Armenian separatists, began 27 September.

Armenia and Azerbaijan accuse each other of having targeted the civilian population since the beginning of hostilities in the mountainous region.

This is not the first time they have committed themselves to a truce, but it has not held so far.

The latest agreement came after “intensive negotiation” between Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted.

Pompeo had met separately Friday with Mnatsakanyan and Bayramov, urging them to “end the violence and protect civilians.”

The State Department said the Minsk co-chairs and the foreign ministers “agreed to meet again in Geneva on October 29” to seek “all steps necessary to achieve a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict”.

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