France, US, Russia urge peaceful solution in Karabakh

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France, Russia and the United States on Saturday called for a "peaceful settlement" in the fighting in the Armenian-backed breakaway region of Nagorny Karabakh.

In a joint statement issued on the sidelines of a G8 summit, the three countries renewed their commitment "to support the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan" as they search for a "peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict."

Tensions over Karabakh have risen in recent months amid stalled negotiations over the status of the region, where ethnic Armenian separatists backed by Yerevan seized control from Baku in a war in the early 1990s.

An estimated 30,000 people are said to have died in the fighting

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev earlier this month threatened to withdraw from foreign-backed peace talks after he accused Armenia of stalling the negotiations.

But the area has recently seen some of the heaviest fighting since the war.

Armenian and Azerbaijani forces are spread across a ceasefire line in and around Nagorny Karabakh, often facing each other at close range, and shootings are common.

© 2010 AFP

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