Qatar welcomed on Saturday the agreement on a humanitarian cease-fire between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the occupied Azerbaijani region of Nagorno Karabakh.

“Qatar looks forward that the agreement would pave the way to solve the dispute through dialogue and diplomatic means to preserve the interests of both peoples,” said a statement by the Qatari Foreign Ministry.

The statement confirmed that “Doha supports international efforts to restore security, stability, and peace in the region.”

A humanitarian cease-fire for the exchange of prisoners and retrieval of bodies in Nagorno-Karabakh entered into effect on Saturday at 12 p.m. local time (0800GMT) following Friday’s extensive talks in Moscow between the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia under the Russian Foreign Ministry mediation.

Fighting began on Sept. 27, when Armenian forces targeted civilian Azerbaijani settlements and military positions in the region, leading to casualties.

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.

Some 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory has remained under illegal Armenian occupation for some three decades.

Four UN Security Council and two UN General Assembly resolutions, as well as many international organizations, demand the withdrawal of the occupying forces.

The OSCE Minsk Group — co-chaired by France, Russia, and the US — was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but to no avail. A cease-fire, however, was agreed to in 1994.

Many world powers, including Russia, France and the US, have urged an immediate cease-fire.

* Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara.

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