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Azerbaijan greenlights Armenia’s delayed troop withdrawal from Kalbajar district

Azerbaijani Presidential Aide Hikmet Hajiyev noted that Baku agreed to this delay due to humanitarian reasons

BAKU, November 15. /TASS/. Baku agreed to let Yerevan delay the withdrawal of its troops from the Kalbajar District in Karabakh until November 25, Azerbaijani Presidential Aide Hikmet Hajiyev told reporters on Sunday.

"Armenia’s authorities submitted a request through the Russian side. The request on allowing the delay is linked to insufficient carrying capacity of the only road leading from the Kalbajar District to Armenia," Hajiyev said.

Azerbaijan agreed to this delay due to humanitarian reasons, he noted.

"The process of withdrawing Armenian forces and civilians, leaving Kalbajar, will be fully under control. The road leading from there to Armenia is rather narrow and it is very busy," Hajiyev said.

The process of withdrawing Armenian forces and citizens along this road has led to a serious traffic jam.

"However, the pullout of Armenian forces from the Agdamsky and Lachinsky districts will be carried out in accordance with the schedule approved by the Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian leaders," he stressed.

Renewed clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia erupted on September 27 with intense battles in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. On November 9, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a joint statement on a complete ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh starting from November 10. The Russian leader said the Azerbaijani and Armenian sides would maintain the positions that they had held and Russian peacekeepers would be deployed to the region. Besides, Baku and Yerevan must exchange prisoners and the bodies of those killed.

Under the agreements, the Agdamsky district will be returned to Azerbaijan by November 20, the Kelbadjarsky district by November 15 and the Lachinsky district by December 1.

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.