Paris and Washington are stressing the need for a ceasefire in Karabakh

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WASHINGTON: US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and French Armies Minister Florence Parly discussed on Friday the need to reach a ceasefire in Nagorny Karabakh, where battles rage between Azerbaijani soldiers and Armenian separatists.

Esper and Barley agreed during a phone call that “the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan must fulfill their promises for an immediate ceasefire in the Nagorno Karabakh region and a peaceful settlement (of the conflict),” according to a statement released by the Pentagon.

Together with Russia, the United States and France have led conflict resolution efforts since 1994, within the so-called Minsk Group.

The fighting resumed at the end of September in Karabakh, killing more than 700 people, according to an unlimited number.

The Pentagon statement indicated that the US Defense Secretary also discussed with his French counterpart the situation in the eastern Mediterranean, another area where tensions with Turkey are escalating.

Turkey this week sent a ship to explore for gas to this region claimed by Greece, prompting Germany and France to denounce the “unacceptable” provocations from Turkey.

After releasing 4 Western hostages in Mali for 200 jihadists, Esper thanked “the (French) minister for the pioneering role of France in the fight against terrorism,” according to the statement.

The statement added that the Pentagon “also expressed its hope that more European countries would support France’s efforts in the Sahel region,” without mentioning the Pentagon’s plan to reduce its military participation in Africa.

About 5,100 French soldiers are deployed in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso as part of Operation Barkhane to repel the jihadists.

Washington provides Operation Barkhane with intelligence capabilities, especially through unmanned aerial vehicles, in-flight refueling and logistical transport operations, at a cost of $ 45 million annually.

(AFP)





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