UN chief welcomes Armenia-Azerbaijan agreement to improve ties

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 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday welcomed the agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan to improve their relations, said his spokesman.

“The secretary-general welcomes the joint statement issued by Armenia and Azerbaijan announcing a series of confidence-building measures and reaffirming their commitment to normalize bilateral relations,” said Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman.

The United Nations encourages the parties to build on the agreement to advance mutual confidence and secure long-term peace for the benefit of their populations and the region, Dujarric told a daily press briefing.

Armenia and Azerbaijan said Thursday that they have reached an agreement on taking confidence-building steps by releasing prisoners of war following their first-ever direct negotiations with no mediators involved.

The two countries said they intend to normalize relations and to reach a peace treaty.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been at loggerheads over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, since 1988. Peace talks have been going on since 1994 when a cease-fire was agreed on, despite sporadic clashes since then.

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