ISTANBUL / ANKARA

In a telephone call, Turkey’s president late Saturday spoke to his Russian counterpart, addressing regional matters with special emphasis on ongoing clashes in Upper Karabakh.

Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin discussed Turkish-Russian relations and regional developments, including Azerbaijan’s Upper Karabakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) region, Turkey’s Communications Directorate said in a statement.

Erdogan told Putin that Armenia must withdraw from the Azerbaijani lands that it has been occupying, noting that Azerbaijan’s ongoing counter-operations in the face of Armenian attacks are being conducted within its own lands.

During the phone call, the Turkish president further stressed that Armenia must be convinced to have the common sense to go the negotiating table.

Ending the ongoing conflict with a permanent solution and stabilizing the region is of key importance, he added.

Earlier Saturday, at a ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party provincial congress, Erdogan said Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev had been sharing good news with him about progress by their forces in the conflict.

Erdogan said that a victory in Upper Karabakh is drawing near, with Azerbaijani scoring numerous successes in liberating occupied territories from Armenia.

Shortly after Erdogan’s phone conversation with Putin, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

Diplomatic sources on Saturday said the two diplomats also discussed the Upper Karabakh issue.

Turkey has long supported neighboring Azerbaijan’s rightful territorial claims in Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, a Caucasus region illegally occupied by Armenia for nearly three decades.

Since a new round of clashes erupted on Sept. 27, Armenia has repeatedly attacked Azerbaijani civilians and forces, even violating three humanitarian cease-fires.

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh and surrounding areas, which together make up some 20% of Azerbaijani territory.

While world powers have called for a sustainable cease-fire, Turkey has supported Baku’s right to self-defense and demanded the withdrawal of Armenia’s occupying forces.

Multiple UN resolutions also call for withdrawal of the occupying forces.

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