Amid new tensions, Azerbaijan says ready for peace talks with Armenia

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Azerbaijan said on Tuesday it was ready for peace talks with Armenia, after Yerevan urged Baku to negotiate a comprehensive peace treaty amid new tensions over Nagorno-Karabakh.

“If Armenia is serious about a peace agreement, then concrete steps have to be made. We repeat that Azerbaijan is ready for this,” the foreign ministry in Baku said in a statement.

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The ministry pointed out that Azerbaijan had proposed that the two countries hold peace talks a year ago.

In 2020, Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a war over the long-contested enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh which claimed more than 6,500 lives.

A ceasefire deal brokered by Russian President Vladimir Putin saw Armenia cede swathes of territory to Azerbaijan, and Moscow deploy a peacekeeping contingent to the mountainous region.

Last week, Yerevan and Moscow accused Baku of violating a ceasefire in the Russian contingent’s zone of responsibility.

They accused Azeri forces of capturing the village of Farukh in the Askeran region of Karabakh, where three Armenian soldiers were killed in a shootout last week.

Baku rejected the accusation, insisting the area was part of its internationally recognized territory.

On Monday, Armenia’s security council accused Azerbaijan of “preparing the ground for fresh provocations and an offensive on Nagorno-Karabakh.”

It urged Baku to “immediately start talks on a comprehensive peace treaty.”

Armenia also demanded an investigation into the Russian peacekeeping contingent’s actions during the Azeri “incursion” and urged the Russian force to take “concrete steps” to diffuse tensions.

A major flare-up in Karabakh could pose a challenge for Moscow, at a time when tens of thousands of Russian troops are engaged elsewhere, in Ukraine.

Moscow has deployed some 2,000 peacekeepers in Karabakh and a land corridor linking it with Armenia.

Ethnic Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The ensuing conflict claimed around 30,000 lives.

Read more: Armenia-Azerbaijan tensions surge with Russia distracted by Ukraine war

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