Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Monday termed his talks with top Azerbaijani officials in Baku as “fruitful”.
The top Iranian diplomat, who arrived in Baku late Sunday on the first leg of his five-nation regional tour, met with President Ilham Aliyev and Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov.
The key to “sustainable peace”, Zarif said, lies in “inclusive regional arrangements”, which include “transit corridors benefiting all”.
During extensive deliberations with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Zarif expressed Iran’s readiness to contribute toward reconstruction efforts in the recently liberated Azerbaijani territories.
Zarif said he was happy to see Azerbaijan regaining control over its occupied territories, which were liberated from the Armenian occupation in November after a months-long armed conflict between the two sides that ended with a Moscow-brokered truce.
Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, is a territory recognized as part of Azerbaijan. It was occupied by Armenia in 1991 and has since caused a deep rift with neighboring Azerbaijan.
When new clashes erupted Sept. 27, 2020, Armenia launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces and even violated humanitarian cease-fire agreements.
During the six-week-long conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages, while at least 2,802 of its soldiers were martyred. There are differing claims about the number of casualties on the Armenian side, which, sources and officials say, could be as high as 5,000.
The two countries signed a Russian-brokered agreement Nov. 10, 2020, to end fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution.
A joint Turkish-Russian center is being established to monitor the truce. Russian peacekeeping troops have also been deployed in the region.
The cease-fire is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia, whose armed forces have withdrawn in line with the agreement.
Zarif termed the post-war phase as “key to bringing peace and stability” in the region, which he said is “in the interests of all the parties”.
The talks between the two ministers also discussed the implementation of joint economic projects, in line with discussions held last week during a meeting of the joint economic cooperation commission.
Zarif said the issues of energy cooperation, transit and activation of east-west, north-south corridors came up for discussion.
He said he will hold talks with leaders in other regional countries in the coming days to strengthen regional cooperation and efforts toward regional peace and stability.
Zarif, whose five-nation regional tour had been postponed earlier, is also slated to visit Armenia, Georgia, Russia and Turkey in the coming days.
Iran, which shares a 132-km border with Azerbaijan, has traditionally maintained a neutral stance on Karabakh. However, following the recent flare-up, calls in the country have grown in favor of Baku.
Tehran recently announced its readiness to play a role in strengthening the ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenia, while emphasizing the need for a “permanent solution” to the crisis.