Turkey's Erdogan plans to visit ally Azerbaijan after Nagorno-Karabakh truce

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to meet with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISTANBUL (AFP) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit staunch ally Azerbaijan next week, on Dec 9 and 10, his office said on Thursday (Dec 2), following a truce that ended fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The planned visit is the first by a foreign head of state to Baku since the ceasefire last month, which ended six weeks of heavy fighting and saw ethnic Armenians agree to withdraw from large parts of the contested region of Azerbaijan.

Turkey is a regional ally of Azerbaijan and has fervently defended its right to reclaim the Nagorno-Karabakh lands that Baku lost to ethnic Armenian separatists in a 1988-94 war.

While the presidency did not provide details of the visit, Mr Erdogan is expected to meet with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev.

Mr Erdogan will also attend a major military parade in Baku next Thursday when the "Karabakh victory" will be celebrated, Turkish media reported.

Ankara announced on on Tuesday that Turkey and Russia have agreed to monitor the Karabakh truce from a joint peacekeeping centre.

Last month, the Turkish parliament voted to deploy a mission to set up the centre with Russia.

Turkish officials have said the centre will be established in an area to be designated by Azerbaijan.

Moscow has stressed repeatedly that Turkey should have no troops on the ground.

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Azerbaijan has announced that almost 2,800 soldiers were killed in the recent conflict involving Nagorno-Karabakh. The final number could still rise, with more than 100 troops still missing.

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