The United States on Sunday said a new humanitarian ceasefire will take effect on Monday in the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, even as fresh fighting erupted between the two sides, Reuters said.
The latest ceasefire is due to take effect at 8 a.m. local time (12 a.m. EDT) on Oct. 26, the U.S. State Department and the governments of Azerbaijan and Armenia said in a joint statement.
"Congratulations to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who just agreed to adhere to a cease fire effective at midnight. Many lives will be saved," U.S. President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter.
The announcement came after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held separate meetings with the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Washington on Friday.
"Those meetings were joined by the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, formed to mediate the conflict and led by France, Russia and the United States, which described them as "intensive discussions" on the ceasefire and the beginning of talks about core elements of a comprehensive solution.
The Minsk Group said its co-chairs and the foreign ministers agreed to meet again in Geneva on Oct. 29.
Azerbaijan on Sunday welcomed the agreement in a statement from its ambassador to the US, Elin Suleymanov, while pointing the finger of blame at Armenia. "We urge Armenia to observe the ceasefire and stop its military provocations as agreed. Azerbaijan is strongly committed to achieving peace and the high number of Azerbaijani civilian deaths in recent weeks shows who is the aggressor," Suleymanov was quoted by AFP as saying.
US President Donald Trump, campaigning for reelection, has promised to resolve the conflict. "They are incredible people. They're fighting like hell," he said of Armenians during a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Sunday.
"And you know what? We're going to get something done," he told the crowd. A group of Armenians had attended his rally in Ohio the day before, he added.
"The problems that they have, the death and the fighting and everything else, we'll get that straightened out. That's going to be -- I call that an easy one," he said.
The US has said it is neutral, but in a recent interview Pompeo described Armenia's actions as defensive, according to AFP.
World leaders have been scrambling for weeks to broker a truce, with Russian President Vladimir Putin estimating that close to 5,000 people have been killed so far in weeks of fighting over the mountainous province.
Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in a bitter conflict over Karabakh since Armenian separatists backed by Yerevan seized control of the mountainous province in a 1990s war that left 30,000 people dead. Karabakh's self-declared independence has not been recognized internationally, even by Armenia, and it remains a part of Azerbaijan under international law.
In total, about 20% of Azerbaijan's territory -- including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions -- has been under illegal Armenian occupation for nearly three decades, according to Anadolu Agency.