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Rouhani says Iran supports Azerbaijan-Armenia truce agreement on Karabakh, ready to offer any help

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has voiced support for Russia’s “valuable” efforts that brokered a truce between Armenia and Azerbaijan aimed at ending the fighting in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, saying the Islamic Republic is ready to offer any help and cooperation in this regard.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to offer any help and promote cooperation to settle the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia through dialog and negotiations and based on legal and international norms and respect for countries’ territorial integrity,” Rouhani said in a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday.

He added that Iran basically believes that the Karabakh conflict cannot be solved through war, and described the military conflict between the two neighboring countries of Azerbaijan and Armenia as “very bitter and worrying” for Iran.

"Any possible intervention of some third countries in this conflict will expand and prolong the crisis, and we do not consider it to be in the interests of regional countries," the Iranian president stated.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to implement the Russia-brokered ceasefire from noon on Saturday, after 11 hours of talks in Moscow, to end nearly two weeks of heavy fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The ceasefire allows the two warring sides involved in the conflict in Karabakh to exchange dead bodies and prisoners.

The agreement came after Armenia’s Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and his Azeri counterpart, Jeyhun Bayramov, met in the Russian capital for the first time since the eruption of the deadliest fighting between the two countries in more than two decades.

The talks in Moscow, chaired by Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov, came a day after Russia, France, and the United States initiated a peace drive at a meeting in Geneva, details of which have not been publicized.

However, Armenia and Azerbaijan have traded accusations of new attacks just after the ceasefire went into effect.

Rouhani further pointed to his separate phone calls with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and stressed the importance of safeguarding security along Iran’s border areas and protecting the lives of Iranians living there.

He said, "Peace in the region is of great importance to us."

He also expressed concern over the presence and participation of some terrorist groups in the Karabakh conflict and said, “The presence of terrorists could be dangerous both for Iran and Russia and for the entire region.”

The Iranian president stressed the need for joint efforts and collective cooperation to put an end to the conflict, establish a viable ceasefire and start negotiations between Baku and Yerevan to patch up differences.

Rouhani warned that the possible persistence of the conflicts would further complicate the situation in the region and would cause broader financial and human losses.

In his talks with Aliyev on October 6, the Iranian president warned that any intervention by third countries could turn the armed clashes underway between the Republic of Azerbaijan and Armenia into a regional war, adding that Tehran stands ready to help resolve the Yerevan-Baku conflict within the framework of international law.

Rouhani also told the Armenian prime minister on September 30 that both Baku and Yerevan should show restraint and reject any foreign interference over the Karabakh dispute, warning that the region cannot tolerate a new war. 

Since late September, heavy clashes have been underway between Azerbaijani and Armenian military forces over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Both sides blame each other for initiating the fighting in the Caucasus Mountains.

For years, the two neighbors have been locked in a conflict over Azerbaijan’s region of Nagorno-Karabakh mainly inhabited by ethnic Armenians. Though a ceasefire was agreed in 1994, Baku and Yerevan continue to accuse each other of shooting attacks around the enclave.

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Elsewhere in his talks with Putin, the Iranian president pointed to the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on economic exchanges between Tehran and Moscow and called for the resumption of bilateral economic relations, including the establishment of flights and the transit of trucks in full compliance with health protocols.

Rouhani expressed Iran’s keenness to cooperate with Russia in producing coronavirus vaccine.

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During the hour-long phone call, the Russian president, for his part, said that Moscow understands Iran's concerns about the Karabakh conflict and is interested in cooperating with Tehran to resolve it through negotiations.

Putin added that Russia attaches great importance to Iran's stance on regional issues, including the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis, and welcomes the continuation of consultations with Tehran to resolve the issue.

Putin said the interference of third countries and the presence of some terrorist groups in the Karabakh crisis are dangerous for the region, and said all Russia’s neighboring countries should make efforts to put an end to the war and bloodshed and settle the crisis through dialog.

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