MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Nagorny Karabakh, a breakaway region on Azerbaijani territory with a predominantly ethnic Armenian population, has been at the center of a bitter conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
"We urge Azerbaijan and Armenia to cease clashes promptly and use all their might to restore tranquility and peaceful settlement of differences within the peace groups and under the United Nation," Ansari was quoted as saying by the IRNA news agency Saturday.
Reports of an escalation of the conflict in the disputed area caused Iran's deep concern, he noted, especially since the region needs stability amid the "destructive acts of extremist groups."
"We invite both of our northern neighbors to restraint and avoiding any action than can turn the situation more difficult," Ansari stressed.
The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh began in 1988, when the autonomous region sought to secede from the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the region proclaimed independence.
A ceasefire was agreed on in 1994, but a permanent peace deal has still not been signed. Since 1992, the OSCE Minsk Group and its co-chairs Russia, France and the United States have been negotiating a lasting and peaceful settlement of the conflict.