VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis will make two trips this year to the often-volatile Caucasus region.
The Vatican said Saturday the pontiff will visit Armenia on June 24-26. He will travel to Georgia and Azerbaijan from Sept. 30-Oct. 2.
Azerbaijan and Armenia have blamed each other for cease-fire violations in separatist Nagorno-Karabakh. The recent fighting marked the worse violence since a separatist war ended in 1994.
Last month, the Vatican said a trip to Armenia was in the planning stages.
Francis last year labeled the Ottoman-era slaughter of Armenians genocide, sparking a diplomatic flap with Turkey. The Turkish government denies that any genocide of Armenians took place, insisting those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.
The trips partially stem from Orthodox church leader invitations. Francis seeks steadily improved Catholic-Orthodox relations.