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Putin To Host Meeting With Armenian, Azerbaijani Leaders In Sochi

Russian President Vladimir Putin (center), Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev (left), and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian at an earlier trilateral meeting in Moscow in January.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will host Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev this week, the Kremlin said on November 23 amid renewed fighting in recent days between the Caucasus neighbors.

The meeting will take place in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi on November 26, the Kremlin said in a statement, adding that the talks were organized on Putin's initiative.

The situation along the border has been tense since the Armenia-Azerbaijan war in September-November last year in which at least 6,500 people were killed.

The conflict ended with a Russia-brokered cease-fire that granted Azerbaijan control of parts of Nagorno-Karabakh as well as adjacent territories occupied by Armenians. Some 2,000 Russian troops were deployed in the area as part of the truce accord.

The Kremlin said the talks in Sochi are "timed to coincide" with the anniversary of the cease-fire signed in November last year.

The Kremlin said the leaders will discuss "outlining further steps to strengthen stability and establish peace in the region."

The Kremlin's announcement came a day after Armenia accused Azerbaijani troops of killing one of its soldiers along the countries' border just days after the two South Caucasus nations engaged in the worst fighting since last year's truce.

Azerbaijan denied the accusation, saying in a statement that "our units did not open fire in that direction, the situation is stable.”

Last week, each side took heavy casualties in fighting along the disputed border, for which each side blamed on the other.

Pashinian and Aliyev last met in January in Moscow.

With reporting by AFP