MOSCOW — Azerbaijan and Armenia opened talks on Friday for a restricted cease-fire after nearly two weeks of fierce combating over a disputed province, with the aim of reaching at the very least a pause lengthy sufficient to gather our bodies from the battlefield and to change prisoners.
However the prospects for a broader peace deal appeared dim after the Azeri president, Ilham Aliyev, stated in a televised speech Friday that he was glad to have talks however was making no concessions.
“We’re profitable and can get our territory again and guarantee our territorial integrity,” Mr. Aliyev stated. “Allow them to abandon our territory in peace.”
The battle in and round Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, flared late final month and has threatened to spiral right into a wider warfare drawing in Russia; Turkey, a NATO member; and probably Iran.
The Russian International Ministry mediated the talks after President Vladimir V. Putin warned earlier this week that Russia might be compelled to uphold its mutual protection pact with Armenia if the combating unfold.
“Ours is a tiny nation, hardly seen on the map, but it surely might be the beginning of gigantic warfare,” Irina Grigoryan, a instructor of Russian literature who fled Nagorno-Karabakh per week in the past, stated in a phone interview on Friday.
After Ms. Grigoryan left with 5 grandchildren for the security of Yerevan, the Armenian capital, an house the place among the kids lived was bombed, she stated. She stated she is hopeful the cease-fire will maintain.
“Can’t they cease the warfare, at the very least for a day or two?” she stated. “Any negotiation is healthier than warfare.”
In nighttime phone conversations with the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia, Mr. Putin steered the restricted truce as a preliminary step. Mr. Putin invited each nations’ international ministers to the talks in Moscow.
Mr. Putin “made an attraction to halt fight underway within the space of Nagorno-Karabakh from a humanitarian perspective,” the Kremlin stated in an announcement. “The aim is to change our bodies of those that died and prisoners. To seek the advice of on these questions with mediation by the Russian International Ministry” each side had been invited to Moscow, the assertion stated.
The battle in Nagorno-Karabakh has simmered for many years in a distant mountain area of little geostrategic significance, after a warfare within the early 1990s led to a cease-fire however no wider settlement. That modified when Turkey, which has been flexing its muscular tissues regionally in current months, overtly backed Azerbaijan, its ethnic Turkic ally, in an escalation that started on Sept. 27.
Mr. Putin this week stated that Russia would honor the protection settlement with Armenia if the combating spilled onto Armenian territory relatively than the world in and across the Nagorno-Karabakh area in Azerbaijan. That assertion raised the prospect of Russian intervention and was adopted by the attraction for a truce to change our bodies and prisoners.
Armenia stated on Friday that 376 of its troopers had died within the combating so far. Azerbaijan has not been releasing physique counts.
The combating carried on Friday even because the Azerbaijani, Armenian and Russian international ministers ready for the talks in Moscow.
The Nagorno-Karabakh Protection Ministry stated the 2 armies exchanged artillery hearth throughout the frontline in a single day Thursday and into Friday, and that populated areas on its territory had been hit.
Rocket artillery on Thursday hit the roof of the Holy Savior Cathedral, a cherished, 19th century Armenian cathedral within the hilltop city of Shusha, partially destroying it. The cathedral was additionally partially destroyed within the Nagorno-Karabakh warfare within the early 1990s and subsequently restored.
Azerbaijani state information media reported shelling in two districts on Friday. The nation’s prosecutor normal stated Friday that for the reason that combating began final month 31 civilians have been killed and 178 wounded by artillery hearth.
The workplace of the United Nations Excessive Commissioner on Human Rights issued an announcement Friday condemning the violence spilling over into civilian areas. The fee estimated that as of Thursday 58 civilians had been killed, together with kids, whereas house buildings, faculties and different civilian buildings had been destroyed.
The assertion referred to as for the militaries to halt use of cluster munitions, which scatter small bombs over a large space and are significantly deadly to civilians. The combating additionally risked spreading coronavirus, the assertion famous.
Michelle Bachelet, the commissioner, stated the warring sides wanted to “abide by the rules of distinction, proportionality and precaution,” and to keep away from firing explosive weapons into populated areas.