Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron have called for an immediate ceasefire between ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan, as the official death toll passes 100.
The two sides are engaged in the heaviest fighting in decades over Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian province that broke away from Azerbaijan in the 1990s when the Soviet Union collapsed.
So far, Armenia and Azerbaijan have rejected international calls for negotiations.
The ceasefire call came as two journalists from France’s Le Monde were in a serious condition after being injured in shelling.
Image: Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron called for an ‘immediate ceasefire’
The Kremlin said on Thursday: “Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron called on the warring sides to halt fire completely and as soon as possible, de-escalate tensions and show maximum restraint.”
In a phone call that came at Mr Macron’s initiative, the two leaders discussed “concrete parameters of further cooperation, first and foremost within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group,” the Kremlin said.
They expressed “readiness” to see a statement on behalf of the co-chairs of the Minsk Group – Russia, France and the United States – that would call for an “immediate” end to fighting and start of talks, the Kremlin added.
More from Emmanuel Macron
Russia has also offered to host the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
:: Subscribe to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker
Two French journalists working for newspaper Le Monde are said to be in a serious condition after being injured by shelling in the town of Martuni, an Armenian government source told the Reuters news agency.
Le Monde editor’s said the two journalists included one photographer, but no further details were immediately available.
Two Armenian journalists were also reportedly injured.
Azerbaijan’s general prosecutor’s office also said on Thursday that Armenian shelling had killed a civilian in its town of Terter and badly damaged the train station.
Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev has promised his military will keep fighting until Armenian troops withdraw fully from Karabakh.
If “the Armenian government fulfils the demand, fighting and bloodshed will end, and peace will be established in the region,” he said while visiting wounded soldiers on Wednesday.
Source : Sky News