Armenia proposes demilitarized zone for Karabakh, Azerbaijan border after new clashes

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Armenia on Thursday proposed creating a demilitarized zone along its border with arch enemy Azerbaijan and around the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The two countries twice went to war over Azerbaijan’s Armenian-populated enclave in the 1990s and 2020, while in September more than 280 people from both sides were killed in new clashes.

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“I have tabled an initiative to create a demilitarized zone around Nagorno-Karabakh,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told his cabinet during a meeting.

“We are also putting forward an initiative to set up a three-kilometer demilitarized zone along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border,” he added.

There have been frequent border clashes along the two countries’ frontier, despite their pledge not to use force and ongoing peace talks.

Pashinyan’s proposal came days after Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev reiterated a demand for the Armenian military to withdraw from Karabakh.

Six weeks of fighting in 2020 claimed more than 6,500 lives before a Russian-brokered truce ended the hostilities.

Under the 2020 deal, Armenia ceded swathes of territory it had controlled for decades and Russia stationed peacekeepers to oversee the fragile ceasefire.

During a meeting hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin on October 31, Pashinyan and Aliyev pledged not to use force to resolve the conflict.

Pashinyan said on Wednesday that Putin was expected to arrive in Yerevan on November 22 for a two-day visit.

There have been frequent exchanges of fire at the Caucasus neighbors’ border since the 2020 war.

In October, the countries began talks on a future peace treaty, under the mediation of the European Union and the United States.

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

Read more: Armenia, Azerbaijan leaders hold talks in US with Blinken hours after new shootout

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