New clashes broke out between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces over Nagorno-Karabakh a day after talks in Washington to try to end the deadliest fighting in the mountain enclave in more than a quarter of a century.
Azerbaijan’s defense ministry reported fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, a part of Azerbaijan populated and controlled by ethnic Armenians.
Local officials accused Azerbaijan’s forces of shelling buildings in Stepanakert, the largest city in the region, which Baku denied.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met separately with the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia on Friday in a new attempt to end nearly a month of bloodshed that Russian President Vladimir Putin said may have killed 5,000 people.
The collapse of two Russia-brokered ceasefires had already dimmed the prospect of a quick end to fighting that broke out on Sept. 27 over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Azeri forces say they have made territorial gains, including full control over the border with Iran, which Armenia denies. Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian administration says its forces have repulsed attacks.
President Ilham Aliyev told French newspaper Le Figaro that Azerbaijan was ready to sit down for negotiations but blamed Armenia’s actions for the continued hostilities.
“We are ready to stop even today,” Aliyev was quoted as saying. “But, unfortunately, Armenia grossly violated the ceasefire ...If they don’t stop, we will go to the end with the aim of liberating all the occupied territories.”
US President Donald Trump said “good progress” was being made on the issue but did not elaborate and declined to say if he had spoken with the leaders of either country.
Asked how his talks went, Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan told reporters “very good” as he exited the US State Department, and added that work on a ceasefire would
World powers want to prevent a wider war that draws in Turkey, which has voiced strong support for Azerbaijan, and Russia, which has a defense pact with Armenia.
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