Zarif talks with Azeri counterpart over Karabakh dispute

October 17, 2020 - 12:32

TEHRAN — Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was briefed on Thursday by his Azeri counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov about the latest developments surrounding the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.

In a phone conversation, Zarif reiterated Iran’s principled stance with regard to the dispute and highlighted the importance of the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Foreign Ministry website reported.

He also voiced Iran’s readiness to help bring about peace and a sustainable solution to the conflict within the framework of Iran-Turkey-Russia regional initiative, as a complement to the OSCE Minsk Group mechanism.

The two top diplomats also emphasized the significance and the role of regional initiatives to resolve the decades-old crisis.

The breakaway of Nagorno-Karabakh has long been a source of conflict between Baku and Yerevan since the early years of the 1990s when the two sides fought a years-long war over the disputed region that led to the Armenian forces declaring independence from Azerbaijan and also occupying parts of Azerbaijan’s territories surrounding the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh.

Through a mediation of Moscow, the two sides agreed to a ceasefire starting on October 10 to exchange prisoners and bodies of those killed in the conflict. However, each side has since accused the other of breaking the agreement. Armenia and Azerbaijan also accused each other of bombarding civilian areas ahead of the ceasefire.

The talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia were held in Moscow and were the first diplomatic contact between them since September 27.

Hundreds of people have died and thousands more have been displaced since the latest clashes broke out.

Several rockets fired since the beginning of the clashes have hit Iranian soil, prompting Iran to warn the two sides of the conflict.

On Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said it is not at all acceptable that the rockets have struck Iran’s border areas. 

“Unfortunately, worrying reports have been received today in this regard, and that is not at all acceptable,” Khatibzadeh said. 

He also dismissed the rumors that Iran’s border guards have retaliated, adding that maintaining the security and peace of the Iranian citizens living in the border areas is a red line for Iranian armed forces.

The spokesman vowed that Iran would not remain indifferent in case of a repeat of such attacks.

According to reports, one of the mortar shells that hit a village in Khoda-Afarin county has injured a six-year-old child. Dozens of other shells and rockets have damaged buildings in villages near the border.

Earlier this month, Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami warned the two sides that the Islamic Republic will take stronger measures if shells fired in the fighting continue to hit the country’s border regions.

“It is unacceptable at all that a bullet hits Iran’s borders due to a mistake or carelessness,” Hatami said on October 6.