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Azerbaijan and Armenia hold talks in Russia’s mediation


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Russia will host top Azerbaijani and Armenian diplomats on Friday to discuss resolving the decades-old conflict between the two neighbours.

The meeting comes after several rounds of talks led by the European Union and the United States.

The increasing diplomatic involvement of Brussels and Washington in the Caucasus has angered Russia, the traditional regional power broker.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters that a meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan “will take place in Moscow on May 19”.

She said that before the tripartite talks, the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Ararat Mirzoyan and Jeyhun Bayramov, are expected to discuss a draft peace treaty.

Yerevan is increasingly frustrated by what it describes as Moscow’s failure to protect Armenia in the face of a military threat from Azerbaijan.

With Russia bogged down in Ukraine and unwilling to strain relations with Turkey, Azerbaijan’s main ally, the United States and the European Union have sought to steer the talks.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met Sunday in Brussels for a new round of talks hosted by European Council President Charles Michel.

Another meeting between Pashinyan and Aliyev is scheduled for June 1 in Moldova and French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Schultz are expected to participate.

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been strained since 1991 when the Armenian army occupied Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

Most of the territory was liberated by Baku during a war in the fall of 2020 that ended after a Russian-brokered peace deal opened the door to normalization.

However, the establishment of a checkpoint on the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the South Caucasus region last month raised tensions.

The Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the border checkpoint was set up in response to security threats from Armenia, citing the transfer of weapons and ammunition to the Karabakh region. Yerevan denied the accusations.

Washington said earlier that it was “extremely concerned” by Azerbaijan’s establishment of a checkpoint at the Lachin corridor.

Although Russia brokered the last major deal between the two sides and now maintains forces in Karabakh, it has recently been preoccupied with the conflict in Ukraine.

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