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UN chief urges Azerbaijan, Armenia to immediately end fighting

Antonio Guterres also expressed full support for efforts by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group Co-Chairs

THE UNITED NATIONS, July 14. /TASS/. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to immediately stop clashes and start de-escalating the conflict, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Monday.

"The Secretary-General urges an immediate end to the fighting and calls on all involved to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation and refrain from provocative rhetoric," the statement said.

The UN chief also expressed full support for efforts by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group Co-Chairs to "address this dangerous situation and search for a peaceful, negotiated settlement to the long-standing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict."

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said on July 12 Armenian army units had tried to attack Azerbaijan’s positions at the Tovuz section of the border with use of artillery systems. According to the ministry, clashes continued through the night. Four Azerbaijani soldiers were killed and four others were wounded.

Armenia’s Defense Ministry said, in turn, that the border situation had aggravated after Azerbaijan’s attempted attack. The Armenian Defense Ministry said that two Armenian policemen and three soldiers had received minor wounds in shelling by the Azerbaijani side.

The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed serious concerns on Monday over the sharp deterioration on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and called on the sides to show restraint and fully abide by the ceasefire. Moscow voiced readiness to provide assistance in ironing out the crisis.

The conflict between neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan over the highland region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory that had been part of Azerbaijan before the Soviet Union break-up but was mainly populated by Armenians, broke out in the early 1988 after the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region announced its withdrawal from the Azerbaijani Soviet Republic.

In 1991-1994, the confrontation spilled over into large-scale military action for control over Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent territories after Azerbaijan lost control of them.

Talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement have been held since 1992 in the format of the so-called OSCE Minsk Group led by three co-chairs - Russia, France and the United States.