YEREVAN/BAKU: Armenia's prime minister said on Wednesday (Oct 21) he saw no possibility of a diplomatic solution at this stage in the conflict with Azerbaijan over the mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.
His comments, after Azerbaijan's president said he believed the conflict could be solved militarily, increased doubts over a diplomatic push by major powers to bring peace to the South Caucasus region.
In the latest flare-up of the decades-old conflict, hundreds of people have been killed since Sep 27 in clashes in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, which is part of Azerbaijan but populated and controlled by ethnic Armenians.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday he had held separate talks with the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, who are expected to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington on Friday.
Pompeo said he hoped that a diplomatic solution could be found.
"The right path forward is to cease the conflict, tell them to de-escalate, that every country should stay out – provide no fuel for this conflict, no weapons systems, no support – and it is at that point that a diplomatic solution, that would be acceptable to all, can potentially be achieved," he told reporters.
But hopes that Pompeo's direct involvement in mediation might lead to a breakthrough were dampened by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's remarks in an address to the nation.
"We have to realise that the Karabakh question, at least at this stage and for a very long time, cannot have a diplomatic solution," Pashinyan said.
"Everything that is diplomatically acceptable to the Armenian side … is not acceptable to Azerbaijan any more."
Pashinyan said before that Armenia was ready for talks based on mutual concessions and a solution acceptable to all sides of the conflict.
Azerbaijan's main condition for ending fighting is an Armenian withdrawal from Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia rules this out and accuses Azerbaijan of making a land grab.
Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said this month he believed there was a military solution to the conflict, while his aide Hikmet Hajiyev said on Wednesday that Azerbaijan didn't expect any breakthrough from the planned talks in Washington.
Azeri forces, boosted in recent years by increased military spending and the purchase of weapons from close ally Turkey, say they have made territorial gains in the latest fighting. Nagorno-Karabakh says its forces have repulsed repeated attacks and that the situation is under control.
The fighting is the worst since Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan as the Soviet Union collapsed, resulting in a war in which about 30,000 people were killed.
The violence has raised fears of a wider war drawing in Turkey and Russia, which has a defence pact with Armenia, and increased concern about the security of pipelines in Azerbaijan that carry Azeri gas and oil to world markets.
In further diplomacy, Armenian President Armen Sarkissian flew to Brussels to meet leaders of the NATRead More – Source
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Dozens killed in suspected jihadist attack in Niger
Dozens of people were killed in an attack in Niger on Saturday, in a suspected jihadist attack.
The attack took place around 12:00 CET in the Tchomo-Bangou village in Tillabéri, a western region bordering Mali.
“The assailants surrounded the village and killed up to 50 people,” a local radio journalist said anonymously. “The wounded have been evacuated to the hospital in Ouallam.”
It came on the day provisional results for the first round of the presidential election, held on December 27, were released.
Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate for the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and a former interior minister, is in the lead with 39.3 per cent of the votes. Bazoum has vowed to strengthen the country’s fight against Islamist groups.
The second round of the election is to be held on February 21.
Niger has been a target for jihadist attacks for years, particularly in the western and southeastern parts of the country.
On December 21, six days before the presidential poll, seven soldiers were killed in Tillabéri. In May 2020, twenty people, including children, were also killed in two of the region’s villages.
Niger votes in presidential and legislative elections
People in Niger began voting in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday.
Mohamed Bazoum, the right-hand man of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou is the favourite to win.
The sixty-year-old former interior minister is aiming for outright victory in the first round — something that no candidate has done before.
He’s focussing on security and education.
Over 7 million people are eligible to vote. But some voters, like Gambina Moumouni, simply want a president they can trust.
“We pray to Allah to choose us the president who has the most mercy for the people, a president who will not betray the country and who will not betray the trust of the people, that is our wish. It is also our wish that Allah may help to make the poor, the peasants, the (cattle) breeders happy.
Thirty candidates are standing including two former presidents and two former prime ministers, but according to seasoned observers in the region, the poll is arousing little enthusiasm among the population.
Niger is the world’s poorest according to the UN’s Human Development Index and also one of those hardest hit by climate change.
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