US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosts foreign ministers in their first meeting since deadly border clashes last week.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called for “an enduring peace” between Armenia and Azerbaijan as the top US diplomat brought together the foreign ministers of the two nations for their first in-person meeting. since the outbreak of violence last week.
Blinken hosted Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov at a New York hotel on Monday on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly.
It was the first face-to-face meeting of the foreign ministers since two days of bombing last week.
Blinken said he was “encouraged” that there had been no violence for several days. “Strong and sustainable diplomatic engagement is the best path for everyone,” he said before the meeting.
“There is a path to lasting peace that resolves differences through diplomacy. The United States is prepared to do everything possible to support these efforts. And I am grateful to my two colleagues for being here today to continue this conversation.”
The meeting came just a day after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Armenia and condemned the Azeri attacks, drawing complaints from Baku.
“Pelosi’s baseless and unjust accusations against Azerbaijan are unacceptable,” the country’s foreign ministry said in a statement. “This is a heavy blow to efforts to normalize relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”
Armenia’s national security council revised the death toll in last week’s fighting from 136 to 207, bringing the total deaths on both sides to 286.
A ceasefire came into force on Wednesday after the outbreak of violence, which marked the worst flare-up since Armenia and Azerbaijan waged a six-week war over the Nagorno-Karabakh region in 2020.
The two former Soviet countries have been locked in a decades-long conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnically Armenian enclave inside Azerbaijan that has been under the control of Armenian-backed ethnic Armenian forces since a separatist war there ended in 1994.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have traded blame for the latest round of bombing, with Armenian authorities accusing Baku of unprovoked aggression and Azeri officials saying their country was responding to Armenian attacks.
Speaking before Monday’s meeting in New York, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Bayramov said his country is “satisfied with the level of relations” with the United States.
Bayramov also said that his direct talks with his Armenian counterpart, Mirzoyan, were not unusual. “We are always open for meetings,” he said.
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