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UN Chief Urges End To Violence In Nagorno-Karabakh

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his support for de-escalation efforts by the OSCE's Minsk Group, which is mediating a settlement to the Karabakh issue.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging Azerbaijani and Armenian forces to abstain from violence and adhere to their cease-fire agreement after days of deadly skirmishes in the breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Ban said in a statement that he was "concerned" about reports of fighting and expressed his support for de-escalation efforts by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) Minsk Group, which is mediating a settlement to the Karabakh issue.

Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry says 15 of its soldiers were killed in shoot-outs in recent days with Armenian forces along the "line of control" for Nagorno-Karabakh.

The de facto officials in Nagorno-Karabakh reported five soldiers killed.

The U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, James Warlick, urged Baku and Yerevan on August 4 to stop the violence and called on the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents to meet to discuss ways to resolve the conflict.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said President Vladimir Putin will meet with the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents later this week at the resort city of Sochi.

Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian said such a meeting could happen as early as August 8-9.

There was no confirmation of the meeting by Azerbaijani officials and an Azerbaijani presidential official said no decision on whether President Ilham Aliyev would attend such a meeting had been made.

Baku and Yerevan have accused each other of cease-fire violations as tensions continue around Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenian Defense Minister Seiran Ohanian said on August 4 that Azerbaijan's attempts to escalate tensions could trigger a war, adding, however, that "there is no reason for a large-scale military operation yet."

Baku and Yerevan have been locked in a conflict over Azerbaijan's breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh for years.

Armenian-backed separatists seized the mainly Armenian-populated region from Azerbaijan during a war in the early 1990s that killed some 30,000 people.

Diplomatic efforts to settle the conflict have brought little progress.

With reporting by ITAR-TASS and
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