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EU, Russia, US held secret talks in Turkey before Nagorno-Karabakh operation: report

The US was represented at the meeting by Louis Bono, Washington's senior adviser for Caucasus negotiations . Photo (AFP)

Top officials from the United States and the EU met with their Russian counterparts for undisclosed emergency talks in Turkey designed to resolve the standoff over Nagorno-Karabakh, just days before Azerbaijan launched a military offensive last month to seize the breakaway territory from ethnic Armenian control, Politico reported.

A senior diplomat with knowledge of the discussions told Politico the meeting took place on Sept. 17 in İstanbul as part of efforts to pressure Azerbaijan to end its nine-month blockade of the enclave and allow in humanitarian aid convoys from Armenia. According to the envoy, the meeting focused on “how to get the bloody trucks moving” and ensure supplies of food and fuel could reach its estimated 100,000 residents.

The US was represented by Louis Bono, Washington’s senior adviser for Caucasus negotiations, while the EU dispatched Toivo Klaar, its representative for the region. Russia, meanwhile, sent Igor Khovaev, who serves as Putin’s special envoy on relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan launched a lightning offensive against Nagorno-Karabakh on Sept. 19, sending tanks and troops into the region under the cover of heavy artillery bombardment. Karabakh Armenian leaders were forced to surrender following 24 hours of fierce fighting that killed hundreds on both sides. Since then, the Armenian government says more than 100,000 people have fled their homes and crossed the border, fearing for their lives.

Turkey was a key backer of Azerbaijan during the conflict. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last week met with his counterpart from Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, in the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan in a show of support.

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