Armenia, Turkey leaders stress ‘importance’ of better ties: Yerevan

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The leaders of Armenia and Turkey held a rare phone call Monday to stress the importance of better ties, in a move marking a nascent thaw between the arch foes, officials in Yerevan said.

The foreign ministry in Yerevan said Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “stressed the importance of the bilateral process of normalizing relations between the countries.”

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The announcement came after Ankara and Yerevan on July 1 made a breakthrough in talks in Vienna where their diplomats agreed to open the countries’ shared land border to third-country nationals and begin direct cargo flights.

“The leaders expressed hope that the agreements reached on July 1 will be implemented in the nearest future,” Armenia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The two countries have never established formal diplomatic ties and their shared border has been closed since the 1990s.

Their relationship is strained by World War I-era mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, atrocities Yerevan insists amount to a genocide.

But in December, the two countries appointed special envoys to help normalize relations -- a year after Armenia lost to Turkey’s ally Azerbaijan a war for control of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Azerbaijan used the help of Turkish combat drones to recapture most of the contested territory that had been under ethnic Armenians’ control since the 1990s.

In February, Turkey and Armenia resumed their first commercial flights in two years. The land border between the two countries has remained closed since 1993 however, forcing trucks to transit through Georgia or Iran.

Read more: Biden again describes past Armenian massacres as genocide

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