DUBAI/MOSCOW, Oct 22 (Reuters) – Foreign ministers from Iran, Turkey, Russia and Georgia will meet their counterparts from Azerbaijan and Armenia in Tehran on Monday and discuss progress towards a peace agreement between the two South Caucasus neighbours, Iranian state media said.
IRNA news agency quoted the foreign ministry as saying the six countries wanted to talk about regional issues “without the interference of non-regional and Western countries”.
That was an implicit reference to the United States and the European Union, whose involvement in the search for a peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan has particularly annoyed Moscow.
Russia’s Interfax news agency said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would travel to Tehran for the meeting. Russia regards itself as the security guarantor between Azerbaijan and Armenia but the demands and distractions of its war in Ukraine have led to a weakening of its influence.
Azerbaijan last month staged a lightning offensive to regain control of the region of Nagorno-Karabakh where ethnic Armenians had enjoyed de facto independence since breaking away in the 1990s.
More than 100,000 Karabakh Armenians have since fled, and Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of carrying out ethnic cleansing. Baku denies that, saying people were free to stay and be integrated into Azerbaijan.
The two countries have fought two wars in the past three decades and have so far failed to reach a peace deal despite long-running efforts by the United States, EU and Russia.
(Reporting by Maxim Rodionov; Editing by Hugh Lawson)