Conflict – Nagorny Karabakh: France and USA insist on a ceasefire

Paris and Washington on Friday called on the belligerents in Nagorno Karabakh to stop the fighting, which has already left more than 700 dead.

Posted: 10/16/2020, 11:41 p.m.

An Azeri soldier in Jabrayil, October 16, 2020.

AFP

Pentagon chief Mark Esper and French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly discussed on Friday the need to reach a ceasefire in Nagorny Karabakh where fighting rages between Azerbaijani soldiers and Armenian separatists.

In a telephone interview, Mark Esper and Florence Parly “agreed that the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan must honor their promises of an immediate ceasefire in the Nagorny Karabakh region and to a peaceful settlement ”of their dispute, according to a Pentagon press release. The United States and France have been mediating countries in the conflict since 1994, alongside Russia, within the framework of the so-called Minsk group.

Nagorny Karabakh, a territory mainly populated by Armenians, seceded from Azerbaijan shortly before the breakup of the USSR in 1991, leading to a war that left 30,000 dead and hundreds of thousands of refugees from both camps in the 1990s. The fighting, which had never completely ceased, resumed at the end of September, killing more than 700, according to partial reports and Turkey, Baku’s main ally, is accused of interference there.

Mediterranean and Mali

The US Defense Minister also discussed with his French counterpart the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, another region where tensions with Turkey are mounting, the Pentagon statement said. Turkey this week returned a gas exploration vessel to this area claimed by Greece, leading Germany and France to denounce “unacceptable” provocations by Turkey.

While the release of 200 jihadists in exchange for 4 Western hostages in Mali leaves a bitter taste to the French military, Mark Esper “thanked the minister for the leading role of France in the fight against terrorism”, notes the American press release. “He also expressed the hope that more European countries will support France’s efforts in the Sahel,” the Pentagon concludes, without mentioning the Pentagon’s plan to reduce its military engagement in Africa.

Some 5,100 French soldiers are deployed in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso as part of Operation Barkhane to block the jihadists. Washington is providing Barkhane with intelligence and surveillance capabilities, including through its drones, in-flight refueling and logistical transport, at a cost of $ 45 million per year.

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Posted: 10/16/2020, 11:41 p.m.


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