Russian Foreign Minister to Make CIS Visits

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is starting a series of visits to member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) on Monday.

Lavrov is heading to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

The CIS is a loose association of former Soviet republics. It consists of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The visits to Armenia and Azerbaijan, due April 2-3 and April 3-4 respectively, are dedicated to the 20th anniversary of Russia’s diplomatic relations with the countries.

During talks in Yerevan and Baku, the sides are also expected to exchange opinions on the Nagorny Karabakh conflict over the breakaway region on Azerbaijani territory with a predominantly ethnic Armenian population.

The conflict between the two Caucasus states erupted in the late 1980s, when Nagorny Karabakh claimed independence from Azerbaijan. It is estimated to have left more than 30,000 people dead on both sides between 1988 and 1994. The region has since remained under Armenian control.

Lavrov will start his visit to Kyrgyzstan on April 4.

After discussing regional cooperation with the country’s leadership, he will go to Kazakhstan to attend foreign ministerial meetings of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the CIS.

The CSTO is a regional security organization whose seven member states are Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The Russian foreign minister and his counterparts will hold talks on the CSTO’s principled positions on global and regional security issues.

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