Iran hosts Armenia-Azerbaijan talks, says they offer chance of South Caucasus peace

A historic opportunity is available to all countries in the region. The war in South Caucasus has ended, and it is time for peace and cooperation,” Iran’s foreign minister says

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Iran hosted talks between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan on Monday, saying they offered an opportunity to bring peace to the South Caucasus after Baku’s forces last month recaptured the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The two foreign ministers’ first meeting since Azerbaijan’s lightning offensive also took place against the background of rising tensions in the Middle East.

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“A historic opportunity is available to all countries in the region. The war in South Caucasus has ended, and it is time for peace and cooperation,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said in a televised statement.

“The presence of outsiders in the region will not only not solve any problems but will also complicate the situation further,” he added, without elaborating.

That was an implicit reference to the United States and the European Union, whose involvement in the search for a peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan has particularly annoyed Russia.

The talks in Tehran were also attended by the foreign ministers of Russia and of Turkey, a close ally of Azerbaijan.

“Given its strong and influential position, Iran is ready to assist in resolving the existing disputes between Azerbaijan and Armenia,” Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi said, according to state media, during talks with Armenia’s foreign minister.

Russia regards itself as the security guarantor between Azerbaijan and Armenia, both former Soviet republics, but the demands and distractions of its war in Ukraine have led to a weakening of its influence in the South Caucasus.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, in a statement posted on the X social media platform, said Ankara welcomed Monday’s talks in Tehran and hoped they would “give impetus to normalization and peace processes”.

Nagorno-Karabakh is viewed internationally as part of Azerbaijan but had been controlled by breakaway ethnic Armenians since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s.

Azerbaijan’s recapture of Karabakh has prompted the exodus of most of the region’s 120,000 ethnic Armenians. Yerevan has accused Baku of ethnic cleansing, while Azerbaijan said the Armenians left of their own accord and were welcome to return.

Christian Armenia and Muslim Azerbaijan have fought two wars in the past three decades and have so far failed to seal a peace deal despite long-running efforts by the United States, EU, and Russia.

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