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Presence of Takfiri terrorists in Karabakh ‘serious cause of concern’: Iran deputy FM

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 Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araqchi

The Iranian deputy foreign minister for political affairs says the presence of Takfiri terrorists in Nagorno-Karabakh, the region of dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenian, is a ‘serious cause of concern’ for the Islamic Republic.

In an international meeting hosted by Iran on Monday, Abbas Araqchi said Tehran was seriously concerned about the presence of terrorist groups there, adding, however, that all parties involved in Karabakh developments have assured Iran that such groups will have no standing in that region.

“Political, economic and cultural relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan are at their highest level, and for us, the Republic of Azerbaijan is a very important country in our neighborhood, and good relations between the two sides will continue,” Araqchi stated.

The senior Iranian diplomat underlined that during the latest conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Tehran was against the war and the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan.

Araqchi said the Republic of Azerbaijan has been “one of the most important and influential neighbors of Iran” particularly during the years of sanctions.

“In the difficult period of sanctions, economic relations between Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan have continued without the slightest change.”

The deputy foreign minister said Iran’s main position has been the liberation of the occupied areas of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“We are opposed to any change in the borders of the region and the threat to the sovereignty of countries as well as any involvement of extra-regional countries, and these concerns of the Islamic Republic of Iran have been expressed to both sides.”

Back in October 2020, the Iranian Foreign Ministry unveiled aspects of the Islamic Republic’s initiative for the resolution of the conflict, saying the proposed plan aims to promote “lasting peace.”

Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but it has been held by ethnic Armenian separatists backed by Armenia since 1992, when they broke away from Azerbaijan in a war that killed some 30,000 people.

In late September 2020, heavy clashes were underway between Azerbaijani and Armenian military forces over the disputed region. Both sides blamed each other for initiating the fighting.

Azerbaijani forces, backed by Turkey, gained the upper hand and retrieved large swathes of land. Ankara denied accusations of sending mercenaries to the conflict.

Russia, which is considered to be Armenia’s ally in the conflict, refused to take sides militarily and brokered a ceasefire deal, sending thousands of Russian peacekeeping troops to enforce the truce until the two warring sides were able to diplomatically resolve the dispute.

The fierce conflict came to an end in mid-November after Moscow brokered the ceasefire, which leaves Baku largely in control of the territory.

Armenia handed over disputed territories to Azerbaijan back then.

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