Nagorno-Karabakh: Armenia And Azerbaijan Agree Ceasefire

A temporary truce in the conflict in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region has been agreed between Armenia and Azerbaijan, reports the BBC.

Just before 03:00 local time (01:00 BST), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared the deal, following 10 hours of talks in Moscow.

The two countries will now begin "substantive" talks, he said.

Since the latest violence in the long-running conflict broke out on 27 September, more than 300 people have died and thousands have been displaced.

Hostilities will be suspended from midday (08:00 GMT) on Saturday to allow prisoners to be exchanged and dead bodies to be restored.

Nagorno-Karabakh is run by ethnic Armenians although it is officially part of Azerbaijan.

For the most recent outbreak of bloodshed, the worst in decades, the two former Soviet republics have blamed each other.

In Armenia, Russia has a military base and both are members of the coalition of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO).

However, Moscow also has good relations with Azerbaijan.

What's the latest on the ground?

The Armenian Ministry of Defense said the fighting continued throughout the day on Friday, despite the talks being held in Moscow.

Armenia accused Azerbaijan on Thursday of purposefully shelling a historic cathedral in Nagorno-Karabakh. At the Holy Saviour Cathedral in Shusha town (known as Shushi in Armenian), pictures showed severe damage.

At the same time, Azerbaijan said that its second-largest city, Ganja, and the region of Goranboy had been shelled by Armenian forces, with at least one civilian killed.

Speaking to the BBC earlier this week, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan warned of a "genocide" in the region, and said it was "Armenia, land of Armenians".

The clashes have displaced half of Nagorno-Karabakh's population - about 70,000 people - officials said.

Stepanakert, the main town of the area, endured several days of shelling with residents sheltering in basements which leaving most of the town without electricity.

In 1988-94, Armenia and Azerbaijan went to war over Nagorno-Karabakh, finally announcing a ceasefire. In the conflict, however, they never reached a settlement.

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