Turkish foreign minister to visit Azerbaijan on Tuesday: ministry

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ISTANBUL (AFP) – Turkey’s foreign minister will visit Azerbaijan, a close ally, on Tuesday for talks on the conflict in the ethnic Armenian separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Mevlut Cavusoglu “will pay a working visit to Azerbaijan on October 6,” the ministry said. He will meet with President Ilham Aliyev and “also exchange views on the present situation in the Armenian occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan” with his Azerbaijani counterpart.

The visit comes a day after Russia, the United States and France called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to agree an “unconditional ceasefire” after the neighbours began shelling major cities in an escalation of their conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The clashes broke out on September 27, re-igniting a decades-old conflict between the ex-Soviet neighbours over Karabakh and threatening to draw in regional powers Russia and Turkey.

Azerbaijan and Armenia have ignored international calls for a ceasefire and a return to long-stalled negotiations on the region.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said on a visit to Ankara on Monday he expected Turkey to use its “considerable” influence to calm the conflict.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed full support for Azerbaijan in its campaign until it takes back lands it lost in a war in the early 1990s that killed 30,000 as Nagorno-Karabakh broke away.

He said on Monday Azerbaijan was “responding to an attack and saving Karabakh from its occupation”.

“We, Turkey, say that we are always on the Azerbaijan side,” Erdogan said in a televised address.

“As long as the Karabakh issue is not resolved, it will not be possible to end the unrest and conflict in the region.”

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