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Karabakh war could spark regional conflict – says Iran

Iranian President Hassan Roohani has warned that fighting between Azeri and ethnic Armenian forces in the South Caucasus could trigger a regional war.

Mr. Roohani delivered the warning on Wednesday during a televised speech, in which he stepped up calls for a ceasefire in the disputed enclave.

With fighting showing no sign of ebbing on day-11 of the violence, the warring sides set out conflicting conditions for ending their deadliest clashes in more than twenty-five years.

“We must be attentive that the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan does not become a regional war,” President Rouhani said.

More than 360 people have been killed in the fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, which under international law belongs to Azerbaijan but is populated and governed by ethnic Armenians.

Azerbaijan says Azeri cities outside the conflict zone have also been attacked, taking fighting closer to territory from which pipelines carry Azeri gas and oil to Europe.

Iran borders both Armenia and Azerbaijan, and has been talking to the two former Soviet republics amid growing concerns over Turkish and Russian involvement. While Ankara is a close ally of Azerbaijan, Moscow has a defence pact with Armenia.

International concern has also deepened as repeated ceasefire calls by world powers go unheeded.

Azerbaijan and Armenia have separately set conditions for a ceasefire.

Azerbaijan has said it would hold talks with Armenia only after the acute phase of military conflict ends. It also insists that Turkey must have a role in mediation.

Last week, Baku said Armenia must set a timetable for a withdrawal from Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding Azeri territories for military action to cease.

For its part, Armenia insists on Turkey “discontinuing its engagement” in Nagorno-Karabakh and “the withdrawal of mercenaries and terrorists or their elimination” from the disputed mountainous enclave.

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