Fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region continued Sunday, but Armenia and Azerbaijan reiterated their commitment to a peaceful resolution of their decades-old conflict and agreed to a third attempt to establish a cease-fire after four weeks of hostilities.
The agreement on a truce set to begin at 8 a.m. (0400 GMT) Monday was announced in a joint statement by the governments of the United States, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Two previous Russia-brokered cease-fires, including one last weekend, frayed immediately after taking force, with both sides accusing each other of violations.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a tweet Sunday night that the U.S. facilitated “an intensive negotiation” and Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov “have committed to implement and abide by the ceasefire” that comes into force Monday.
Russia, the U.S. and France, co-chairs of the so-called Minsk Group set up by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to mediate the conflict, also took part in the talks, Pompeo said.
In a separate statement, co-chairs of the group said they would meet with the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers in Geneva on Thursday “to discuss, reach agreement on, and begin implementation … of all steps necessary to achieve a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”
Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a war there ended in 1994. The latest fighting that began Sept. 27 has involved heavy artillery, rockets and drones, killing hundreds in the largest escalation of hostilities between the South Caucasus neighbors in more than a quarter-century.