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Turkey wants conditions on Caucasus ceasefire, floats broader talks

FILE PHOTO: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (not pictured) address the media during a joint news conference after a meeting in Berlin, Germany July 2, 2020. Michael Sohn/Pool via REUTERS

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday calls for a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh are reasonable but must include an Armenian withdrawal from Azeri lands, and he floated holding talks that would include Ankara.

Speaking at a news conference with his Swedish counterpart Ann Linde in Ankara, Cavusoglu said a meeting including all 11 members of the Minsk group - formed to mediate the conflict and led by Russia, the United States and France - would help.

“We find international calls for a ceasefire reasonable. But we can only see the international community’s wish to solve this issue if there is a call for Armenia to withdraw from Azeri lands as well,” Cavusoglu said.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other of violating a humanitarian ceasefire agreed three days ago over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, drawing warnings from international groups of a crisis.

Several world powers have called for an immediate end to the deadly fighting. But Turkey, which is not part of mediation, has staunchly backed Azerbaijan and repeated calls for Armenian withdraw from the region.

Turkey is one of the Minsk Group’s 11 members. Cavusoglu said he made the offer of talks to Linde since Sweden will take up the term presidency of the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), under which the Minsk group sits.

“It may be beneficial for us to hold a meeting as the Minsk group,” he said. “The Minsk co-chairs (Russia, the United States, France) should also report back to the Minsk group, and steps must be taken already.”

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Ece Toksabay