U.S. says humanitarian ceasefire to take effect on Monday in Nagorno-Karabakh

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A humanitarian ceasefire will take affect Monday morning in the fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the mountainous enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, a joint statement from the U.S. State Department and the two governments said on Sunday.

The announcement comes after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday met with foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Washington in a new push for peace, and a meeting of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, formed to mediate the conflict and led by France, Russia and the United States.

“During their intensive discussions, the Co-Chairs and Foreign Ministers discussed implementing an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, possible parameters for monitoring the ceasefire, and initiating discussion of core substantive elements of a comprehensive solution,” a statement from the Minsk Group said.

The humanitarian ceasefire would take effect at 8 a.m. local time (12 a.m. EDT) on Oct. 26.

But new fighting erupted on Sunday between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces as both sides blamed each other for blocking a peaceful settlement to the conflict.

Armenia accused Azeri forces of shelling civilian settlements. Baku denied killing civilians and said it was ready to implement a ceasefire, provided that Armenian forces withdrew from the battlefield.

Minsk Group said its co-chairs and foreign ministers agreed to meet again in Geneva on Oct. 29 “to discuss, reach agreement on, and begin implementation, in accordance with a timeline to be agreed upon, of all steps necessary to achieve a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”

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