Turkey’s Erdogan tells Putin that Armenia must negotiate over Nagorno-Karabakh

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Saturday that Armenia must be convinced to negotiate in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan and called for a peaceful resolution, the Turkish Presidency said.

At least 1,000 people 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. Erdogan has previously said Turkey and Russia could work together to solve the conflict.

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In a statement, the presidency said Erdogan told Putin in a phone call that Armenia must withdraw from Azeri lands it is occupying and “stated the Armenian leadership must be convinced to sit down at the negotiating table.”

In a separate statement, the Kremlim said Putin had informed Erdogan about his phone calls with the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia, adding “these exchanges were focused on finding options for a swift cessation of hostilities and a political and diplomatic settlement.”

“A mutual readiness to cooperate in order to achieve a peaceful resolution to the conflict was confirmed,” it said.

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also held a phone call with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to discuss the issue, the Turkish foreign ministry said.

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.

Three ceasefires have failed to halt the bloodiest fighting in the South Caucasus for more than 25 years. Both sides accused each other of launching attacks within hours of the agreements.