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Iran offers mediation as fighting flares again between Azerbaijan, Armenia

Iran has announced its readiness to mediate between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the two estranged Caucasus neighbors, amid a flare-up in hostilities leading to heavy casualties on both sides.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made the remarks during a Wednesday phone call with his Azeri counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov.

The top Iranian diplomat expressed “serious concern” as simmering tensions between the two neighbors over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region have caused a fresh flare-up, leaving nearly 100 soldiers dead on both sides.

This is the most recent flare-up in tensions between the two Caucasus neighbors since thousands were killed in a 44-day war over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh that ended in November 2020.

After the fighting, Azeri troops regained control over swathes of Nagorno-Karabakh, which had been controlled since the 1990s by ethnic Armenians.

The deadly conflict, which claimed over 65,000 lives on both sides ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire, but tensions have continued to boil.

Amir-Abdollahian said the Islamic Republic was prepared to help resolve the conflict in a peaceful way and through political means.

“We always lay emphasis on the [need for] preservation of the territorial integrity of countries, including Azerbaijan’s and Armenia’s,” he told Bayramov.

He underscored the importance of preserving the status quo at the Iranian-Armenian border, calling the frontier a “historic connecting route.”

The top Iranian diplomat urged both parties to exercise self-restraint, emphasizing that the region could not take another war.

The Azeri official, for his part, considered the views of Tehran and Baku regarding the future of the region in convergence, expressing gratitude to the Islamic Republic for its efforts aimed at the resolution of the protracted dispute.

The conversation came a day after Iran’s President Ebrahim Raeisi asserted during a phone call with Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan that the Caucasus region’s security is of importance to Iran, adding that the Islamic Republic constantly monitors the region’s developments.

President Raeisi also asserted that the region cannot deal with another war, urging the Caucasus’ neighbors to stay committed to a Russian-mediated ceasefire that ended the 2020 war.

He reaffirmed Iran’s determination to contribute to efforts that lead to the preservation of regional peace and stability.

For his part, Pashinyan appreciated the role the Islamic Republic has played towards the resolution of the region’s crises and said his country was committed to deepening its relations with the Islamic Republic.

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