Armenia’s PM agrees to meet president of historic rival Azerbaijan in Moscow

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Thursday said he had agreed to a Russian proposal to hold talks in Moscow next week with the president of its historic rival Azerbaijan.

The negotiations will take place as tensions rise between the Caucasus neighbors, who have fought two wars over disputed territory and who often see deadly clashes along their volatile border.

Locked in a decades-long territorial conflict, Baku and Yerevan are negotiating a peace agreement with mediation from the European Union and United States, whose diplomatic engagement in the Caucasus has irked traditional regional power broker Russia.

“We received a proposal from Russia to hold a trilateral meeting at the highest level under the mediation of the president of Russia on May 25. We have accepted that proposal,” Pashinyan told his cabinet meeting in Yerevan.

On Friday, foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan are set to hold talks in Moscow hosted by their Russian counterpart.

Baku and Yerevan fought two wars – in 2020 and in the 1990s – for control of Azerbaijan’s mostly Armenian-populated region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Six weeks of hostilities in autumn 2020 ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire that saw Armenia cede swathes of territory it had controlled for decades.

Yerevan has grown increasingly frustrated over what it calls Moscow’s failure to protect Armenia in the face of military threat from Azerbaijan.

With Russia bogged down in Ukraine and unwilling to strain ties with Azerbaijan’s key ally Turkey, the United States and European Union have sought to steer the talks.

On Sunday, Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met in Brussels for a new round of talks hosted by European Council President Charles Michel.

Another meeting between Pashinyan and Aliyev was set for June 1 in Moldova and is expected to involve French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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