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Azerbaijan cancels Armenia talks not wanting Macron to take part

President Ilham Aliyev said on Friday that Azerbaijan did not want France to take part in its peace talks with Armenia, and called off the four-way meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and European Council head Charles Michel in Brussels on December 7.

Fighting flared in September between the two former ex-Soviet countries in their decades-old dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but largely controlled by ethnic Armenians, with backing from Yerevan.

Each side accused the other of triggering the latest bout of fighting, in which Armenia said Azerbaijan had seized settlements inside its borders.

A ceasefire was agreed in late September, and last month in Prague, the two countries agreed to allow a civilian EU mission to be set up on their border.

But on Friday, President Ilham Aliyev said that Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was trying to stop the next round of talks by insisting that France be a mediator. Aliyev said that Macron had “attacked” and “insulted” Baku and should not act as a go-between.

Aliyev said that the French leader had adopted an “anti-Azerbaijan position” and was “insulting” Baku by accusing it of actions it had not carried out, and it is clear to the Azerbaijan president that under the circumstances, France cannot be part of the peace process between the feuding countries.

Armenia’s foreign ministry, meanwhile, said it wanted to maintain the “Prague format” of discussions, which involved Macron and Michel.

Macron has accused Russia of stoking tensions between Baku and Yerevan, and has also affirmed his support for Armenia’s sovereignty in phone calls with Pashinyan.

On Friday, Armenia also said that Azerbaijan hasn’t replied to its latest peace proposals, which it made at a meeting between the two countries’ foreign ministers in Washington at the beginning of November.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that Moscow, which deployed 5,000 peacekeepers to the region in 2020 to manage a ceasefire after a six-week war, was ready to help broker further agreements, but that there was no concrete plan for the leaders to meet in Moscow.

Russia is a formal ally of Armenia but also seeks to maintain good relations with Baku, and has resisted calls to deploy forces to help Yerevan under a mutual defence pact after fighting broke out in September.

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