Azerbaijan said its troops clashed with Armenian forces near the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region as the countries’ foreign ministers prepared to meet.
An Armenian unit attacked Azeri positions this morning and was forced to retreat after a brief exchange of fire, the Defense Ministry in the Azeri capital, Baku, said on its website. Foreign Ministers Eduard Nalbandian of Armenia and Elmar Mammadyarov of Azerbaijan will meet today in Paris to continue talks after the two nations’ presidents met in November in Vienna for the first time in two years.
Escalating border skirmishes have killed at least two soldiers and left two civilians wounded in the past four days. Armenia took over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous enclave about the size of Rhode Island, and seven adjacent districts from Azerbaijan in a war after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991. More than 30,000 people were killed and more than a million displaced before Russia brokered a cease-fire in 1994.
Azerbaijan, which last month signed $45 billion contracts with a BP Plc-led group to pipe natural-gas to Europe, has repeatedly threatened to use force to regain control of the territory should peace efforts fail.