Armenia and Azerbaijan Agree to Cease-Fire After Talks in Washington

WASHINGTON—Armenia and Azerbaijan, which have spent nearly a month engaged in a violent conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, have agreed to a humanitarian cease-fire, the U.S. and the two Caucasus neighbors announced Sunday afternoon.

The cease-fire, based on commitments made in Moscow earlier this month, will take effect at 8 a.m. local time on Monday, according to the joint announcement.

Ambassador Elin Suleymanov, Azerbaijan’s envoy to the U.S., said Sunday that his government is cautiously optimistic that the cease-fire will hold, but emphasized the need for a long-term political settlement.

“It’s not just about an immediate cease-fire,” Mr. Suleymanov said. “Ceasefire lasted for 26 years, between 1994 and 2020. It didn’t produce the lasting solution.”

The embassy of Armenia didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The U.S., France and Russia have assisted negotiations in their capacity as co-chairs of the Minsk Group, established by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 1992 to facilitate a peaceful resolution to the longstanding dispute.

Sunday’s announcement follows a series of meetings in Washington aimed at preventing the long-simmering conflict between the two former Soviet republics from expanding to the wider region. U.S. officials have expressed concern over possible interference by outside parties such Russia and Turkey, which have close links to Armenia and Azerbaijan, respectively.

Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun met Saturday with Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, who “reaffirmed their countries’ commitment to implement and abide by the humanitarian cease-fire,” the nations said in a joint statement.

The Minsk Group co-chairs—Igor Popov of Russia, Stéphane Visconti of France, and Andrew Schofer of the U.S.—joined Saturday’s meetings in Washington, during which they “discussed implementing an immediate humanitarian cease-fire, possible parameters for monitoring the cease-fire, and initiating discussion of core substantive elements of a comprehensive solution,” according to a joint statement.

The foreign ministers and the co-chairs agreed to meet again on Oct. 29 in Geneva to discuss a long-term peace settlement.

On Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met separately with Messrs. Bayramov and Mnatsakanyan at the State Department. Spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said Mr. Pompeo had “emphasized the need to end the violence and protect civilians” and urged the parties to engage in “substantive negotiations.”

President Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a joint statement Oct. 1 condemning civilian casualties and calling for an immediate cease-fire and negotiations.

Write to Courtney McBride at [email protected]

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