Alwaght- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced on Saturday Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to a ceasefire and will begin "substantive talks" over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Speaking after hours of Moscow-brokered negotiations between the two sides in the capital, Lavrov said that Yerevan and Baku had agreed to a ceasefire which begins at 12pm local time (0800GMT).
"A ceasefire is announced from 12 hours 00 minutes on October 10 on humanitarian grounds," Lavrov said, reading from a statement.
The ceasefire — mediated by the International Committee of the Red Cross — allows the two warring sides involved in the conflict in Karabakh to exchange dead bodies and prisoners.
Russia's top diplomat also said that Armenia and Azerbaijan had agreed to start seeking a lasting solution to the territorial dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
"Azerbaijan and Armenia begin substantive negotiations with the purpose of achieving a peaceful settlement as soon as possible," Lavrov told reporters, adding that the talks would be mediated by the Minsk Group of international negotiators.
Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and his Azeri counterpart, Jeyhun Bayramov, declined to speak to reporters following the negotiations that marked the first diplomatic contact between Baku and Yerevan since fighting over the breakaway enclave erupted on September 27.
Baku rules out concessions
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev had ruled out making any concessions to Armenia before the Russia-mediated talks began on Friday.
“Let those holding talks in Moscow know that it’s our territory and we won’t be making any concessions,” Aliyev said, underlining that there was only a military solution to the dispute.
“We are winning and will get our territory back and ensure our territorial integrity,” Aliyev said. “Let them abandon our territory in peace.”
Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but has an Armenian population. The latest fighting has claimed over 400 lives, with each side blaming the other for instigating the conflict.
The Friday talks chaired by Lavrov came a day after Russia, France, and the United States initiated a peace drive at a meeting in Geneva, details of which have not been publicized.