MOSCOW – Azerbaijan said on Saturday it had handed over 15 Armenian prisoners in exchange for a map of the location of landmines in Agdam, a region ceded by ethnic Armenian forces as part of a six-week war deal to end last year.
A Russian mediation ceasefire has halted the fighting that has displaced Azeri ethnic Armenian forces from areas they have controlled since the 1990s in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Irregular skirmishes continue and emphasize the fragility of the ceasefire. .
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed the news and said he hoped it would lay the groundwork for more co-operation.
“We continue to call for the return of all detainees and are ready to assist the countries in the region in their efforts to continue cooperation and resolve the outstanding issues between them,” Blinken said. said in a statement.
The prisoner exchange trade, the first of its kind between the two countries, has been announced by the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry.
Prisoners of war are an important issue for Armenia, while landmines continue to inflict casualties on Azerbaijan.
Two journalists and a local official were killed on June 4 when a landmine in the Kalbajar district of Azerbaijan exploded in an area evacuated by ethnic Armenian forces in November.