Russia’s Putin discusses Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with French president

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Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, the Kremlin said on Saturday.

The Kremlin said the leaders expressed serious concern over the large-scale clashes between ethnic Armenian and Azeri forces in the region and the involvement of fighters from Syria and Libya in the conflict.

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Putin informed Macron of the steps Russia had taken towards implementing a ceasefire and ensuring the sides negotiate a solution to the crisis, the Kremlin said.

The presidents also expressed their desire to continue coordinated mediation efforts, including through the OSCE Minsk Group, set up in 1992 to mediate a peaceful resolution.

At least 1,000 people and possibly many more have died in nearly six weeks of fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous enclave internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but populated and controlled by ethnic Armenians.

The conflict has underlined the influence of Turkey, an ally of Azerbaijan, in a former Soviet region long dominated by Moscow, which has a defense pact with Armenia. It also threatens the security of Azeri oil and gas pipelines.

On Friday, three civilians were killed as Azerbaijani forces shelled the main city of Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia said, following weeks of fighting over the mountainous province.

Defense ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan published photos showing rescue workers in camouflage and orange helmets removing rubble from a building in Stepanakert whose walls were collapsed and roof was caved in.

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