US urges end of clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan

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The United States urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to end the deadly clashes that erupted on Sunday over the region of Nagrony Karabakh, the US State Department said in a statement.

“The United States condemns in the strongest terms this escalation of violence. Deputy Secretary Biegun called the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Jeyhun Bayramov, and the Foreign Minister of Armenia, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, to urge both sides to cease hostilities immediately, to use the existing direct communication links between them to avoid further escalation, and to avoid unhelpful rhetoric and actions that further raise tensions on the ground,” the statement read.

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“The United States believes participation in the escalating violence by external parties would be deeply unhelpful and only exacerbate regional tensions. We urge the sides to work with the Minsk Group Co-Chairs to return to substantive negotiations as soon as possible. As a Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, the United States remains committed to helping the sides achieve a peaceful and sustainable settlement to the conflict,” the statement added.

Arch-foes Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other of initiating clashes Sunday that claimed at least 23 lives and threatened to draw in regional powers Russia and Turkey.

The worst clashes since 2016 have raised the specter of a fresh war in the decades-long territorial dispute over Nagorny Karabakh.

Sixteen Armenian separatist fighters were killed and more than 100 wounded in fighting, rebel officials said.

Both sides also reported civilian casualties.

The United Nations, France, Germany, Italy and the European Union also urged an immediate ceasefire.

- With the AFP

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