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Erdoğan voices ‘wholehearted support’ for Azerbaijan

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday expressed “wholehearted support” for Azerbaijan in a call with counterpart Ilham Aliyev following Baku’s military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh, Agence France-Presse reported, citing the Turkish presidency.

“President Erdoğan reiterated Turkey’s wholehearted support for Azerbaijan to Aliyev,” Erdoğan’s office said, adding that the two discussed “the latest situation in the operation initiated by Azerbaijan.”

Turkey is a historic ally of predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan and views mostly Christian Armenia as one of its main regional rivals.

Ankara supplied Azerbaijan with combat drones and other military equipment that helped Baku win back swaths of the breakaway region in a short but brutal war three years ago.

The Turkish foreign ministry had earlier said the new operation was sparked by “long-standing armed attacks and provocations” against Azerbaijani forces in the region.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan and Armenian separatists from Nagorno-Karabakh held their first direct peace talks Thursday after Baku claimed to have regained control over the breakaway region in a lightning military operation.

The separatists agreed to lay down their arms on Wednesday as part of a Russian-brokered ceasefire plan that halted Azerbaijan’s 24-hour offensive to retake land at the center of decades of conflict.

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