MOSCOW, September 30./TASS/. In separate phone calls with Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bairamov and Armenia's Foreign Minister Zograb Mnatsakanyan on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed readiness to offer Moscow as a platform for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the venue for a trilateral meeting on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a report.
"Sergey Lavrov emphasized that Russia will continue mediatory efforts, both individually and together with the other co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, aimed at creating conditions for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict politically and diplomatically," it said.
The Russian diplomat also "confirmed readiness to offer the Moscow platform for organizing respective contacts, including for holding a new meeting of the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia," the ministry added.
The top Russian diplomat also emphasized the need to get back to the negotiating table as soon as possible.
"Russia expressed serious concern over the continuing large-scale combat operations. A call was issued for prompt ceasefire and de-escalation of tensions, and also for the prevention of provocative and belligerent rhetoric. The need was stressed for the sides to return to the negotiating table," the Foreign Ministry said.
Tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia escalated on September 27. Fighting is underway in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Baku and Yerevan have declared martial law and mobilization. Both parties to the conflict have reported casualties, including among the civilian population. Baku claims to have taken control of several villages and strategic heights in Nagorno-Karabakh. Yerevan denies this and reports shelling of its territory.
The conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory that had been part of Azerbaijan before the Soviet Union break-up, but primarily populated by ethnic Armenians, broke out in February 1988 after the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region announced its withdrawal from the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1992-1994, tensions boiled over and exploded into large-scale military action for control over the enclave and seven adjacent territories after Azerbaijan lost control of them. Talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement have been ongoing since 1992 under the OSCE Minsk Group, led by its three co-chairs - Russia, France and the United States.