Russian Mediation Facilitates Azerbaijan, Armenia Ceasefire

Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed Saturday to a cease-fire that will begin Saturday. Hostilities will be halted at midday (0800GMT) to allow an exchange of prisoners and the recovery of dead bodies in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Red Cross will act as an intermediary in the humanitarian operation as part of the cease-fire and talks will begin between the two nations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a news conference following 10-hour talks in Moscow.

A trilateral meeting Friday between Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia took place in Moscow with Lavrov, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan.

Fighting began Sept. 27, when Armenian forces targeted civilian Azerbaijani settlements and military positions in the region, leading to casualties.

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.

Multiple UN resolutions, as well as international organizations, demand the withdrawal of the invading forces.

The OSCE Minsk Group — co-chaired by France, Russia, and the US — was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but to no avail. A cease-fire, however, was agreed to in 1994. Many world powers, including Russia, France and the US, have urged an immediate cease-fire.