Armenia and Azerbaijan are working to reach a peace agreement

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The two neighbors have been engaged in a decades-long conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh

Armenia and Azerbaijan say they will move toward normalizing relations, and will exchange prisoners captured during the recent fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The two neighbors have been locked in a decades-long conflict over the disputed region.

In a joint statement issued Thursday evening, the two countries said they saw a “historic opportunity” to achieve “long-awaited peace.”

The two countries said they hope to sign a peace treaty by the end of the year.

Azerbaijan’s lightning military offensive in September ended three decades of ethnic Armenian rule over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory.

Most of the 120,000 ethnic Armenians fled to neighboring Armenia.

The two countries announced on Thursday that they will work to sign a full peace treaty based on mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity.

Baku releases 32 Armenian soldiers, and Yerevan releases two military personnel, as a “goodwill gesture.”

European Council President Charles Michel welcomed the statement and described it as “a major achievement in relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.” The United States praised the “important confidence-building measure.”

Other moves include Armenia’s support for Azerbaijan’s bid to host the COP29 climate summit by withdrawing its candidacy. Azerbaijan agreed to support Armenia’s candidacy for a regional group linked to the climate talks.

The two countries also called on the international community to support their efforts.

The agreement was reached during talks between the office of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the administration of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

The two leaders met on several occasions for normalization talks mediated by the European Union, the United States and Russia.

The talks faltered in recent months after Azerbaijan refused to participate in the ongoing talks in the United States and Spain, claiming bias on the part of Western countries. The two countries resumed talks again at the end of October in Iran.

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