Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says a senior Iranian diplomat has gone on a tour aimed at advancing the Islamic Republic’s initiative for resolution of the conflict over Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Iran’s proposal for permanent resolution of the conflict will be tabled either today or tomorrow and we will then follow the proposal up in [the Russian and Armenian capitals] Moscow and Yerevan,” Zarif said on Tuesday.
The foreign minister was speaking on the sidelines of a meeting by Majlis (the Iranian Parliament)’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, where the issue of the conflict and its fallout for the Islamic Republic had come up.
Zarif said the proposal has been devised by the country’s ranking officials. He also reminded that Iran actively pursued a policy that upholds Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, the inviolable nature of recognized international borders, and peaceful resolution of the conflict.
Earlier in the day, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh named Abbas Araqchi, Iranian deputy foreign minister for political affairs, as the official tasked with taking the tour.
Khatibzadeh said Araqchi would be visiting the Azeri, Russian, Armenian, and Turkish capitals during the assignment.
According to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) News, the news outlet of the country’s national broadcaster, the official made a visit on his way to the areas that run along the border in Iran’s Khoda Afarin County.
The border areas have been hit, on several occasions, by stray bullets from a flare-up between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the region.
The escalation began on September 27 after Armenian separatists, who have been seeking to break the region away from Azerbaijan for around three decades, opened fire on Azeri soldiers. More than 1,000 people, including more than a 100 civilians, have reportedly died in the violence.
The violence has been rated the worst to plague Nagorno-Karabakh since 1992, when Armenians invaded the region and forced Azeris into a retreat.
In mid-October, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif informed his Azeri counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov during a phone call of the nature of a proposal by Tehran for resolution of the long-drawn-out conflict.
According to Zarif, the proposal foresees the Islamic Republic, Turkey, and Russia forming a trio that would boost a standing Minsk Group that has failed to resolve the territorial dispute. The Minsk Group that already comprises Russia, the United States, and France was formed after the 1992 Armenian invasion.
It is not yet clear whether the proposal that is to be tabled at the foursome capitals by Araqchi and the proposal that has been floated by Zarif are the same.
Iran has repeatedly warned since late September that it would not tolerate even accidental violation of its sovereignty as a result of the escalation.
While in Khoda Afarin, Araqchi reiterated the position, saying, “We would not compromise our border security,” adding that the issue “constitutes a redline for us.”
“Our border security is among our inviolate principles and we will never default on our responsibility towards it,” he noted, saying the Islamic Republic was pursuing the issue of the firefight and its implications for the Islamic Republic through political channels.