Iran’s Zarif will embark on Caucasus, Turkey tour to discuss regional developments, peace promotion

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will embark on a five-nation tour of regional countries to hold talks with senior officials on the latest developments and ways to promote peace.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Saturday that Zarif will start his visit to Azerbaijan, Russia, Armenia, Georgia and Turkey on Monday at the head of a delegation.

He added that the top Iranian diplomat is scheduled to discuss bilateral issues, the latest developments in the Caucasus, joints projects and ways of promoting peace and stability in the region with his counterparts and other top officials of these countries.

The Iranian foreign minister had planned to travel to the Russian and Azerbaijani capitals in November to talk about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, other regional issues, and bilateral matters.

Zarif was expected to hold talks with officials from the countries, including his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, but his trip was postponed.

The planned visit comes four months after the latest round of clashes in the disputed Karabakh region, which became the worst fighting in the region in decades.

The decades-long Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan flared up in late September, resulting in military and civilian casualties on both sides.

The hostilities ended after the sides agreed to a Moscow-brokered ceasefire on November 9, which secured territorial advances for Azerbaijan in Karabakh and seven surrounding districts and the deployment of Russian peacekeepers to the region.

Since the truce, the two ex-Soviet republics have accused each other of breaching the peace deal that ended six weeks of fierce fighting.

Iran, an immediate neighbor to both Armenia and Azerbaijan, has voiced its readiness to do its utmost to help consolidate the ceasefire.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but has been populated by ethnic Armenians.