France’s foreign minister in Azerbaijan for talks on easing tensions with Armenia

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France’s Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna began a visit to Azerbaijan on Wednesday to hold talks with longtime leader Ilham Aliyev on easing tensions with Baku’s arch-foe and Caucasus neighbor Armenia.

Baku and Yerevan have been locked for decades in a territorial conflict over Azerbaijan’s Armenian-majority region of Nagorno-Karabakh.


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Colonna’s trip comes as both Western nations and Russia -- which has traditionally mediated the conflict -- accused Azerbaijan of violating the Moscow-brokered ceasefire that ended a 2020 war with Armenia.

Tensions flared again this week, with Baku setting up a checkpoint on the only land link between Armenia and Karabakh.

Colonna is due to hold talks with Aliyev -- who became president after his father’s death in 2003 -- and her Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov.

France has moved to make efforts to mediate the conflict in recent months, with Russia distracted by its Ukraine offensive.

A French diplomatic source said the visit was important but was taking place in a “tense” context, describing relations with Baku as “difficult in recent months.”

After visiting Baku, Colonna will travel to Yerevan before making her way to Georgia’s capital Tbilisi on Friday.

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