US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosted the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in New York on Monday in the first direct talks between the two sides since deadly border clashes earlier this month.
Blinken’s trilateral meeting with Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov came on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
What was discussed at the meeting?
“Blinken expressed its condolences for the lives lost and emphasized the need to avoid further hostilities, and underlined the importance of returning to the peace process,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
“They discussed the next steps and the secretary encouraged the parties to meet again before the end of the month,” Price added.
At Monday’s meeting, Armenian Foreign Minister Mirzoyan called for the withdrawal of Azerbaijani armed forces from Armenian territory and for the establishment of “international mechanisms” to “prevent further escalations,” according to a statement from the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Foreign Affairs.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s Bayramov said before the meeting that his country is “satisfied with the level of relations” with the US and added that his direct dialogue with Mirzoyan was not unusual.
“We are always open to meetings,” he says.
What is the conflict about?
For decades, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been embroiled in tension over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory. In 2020, thousands were killed in a six-week war and Azerbaijan made significant territorial gains.
Intense artillery shelling broke out earlier this month, killing more than 170 soldiers on both sides and rekindling tensions. Each country blamed the other for the initial provocation. Last week, Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed a ceasefire.
Fighting between the two former Soviet states also threatens to draw Turkey, a key supporter of Azerbaijan, and Russia – Armenia’s security guarantee – into a wider conflict at a time when geopolitical tensions are already high.
Before the talks, Blinken had said Washington was “encouraged by the fact that the fighting has ceased and that there has been no additional military action in recent days.”
On Sunday, US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visited Armenia and denounced “illegal and deadly attacks by Azerbaijan on Armenian territory”.
dvv/wmr (TNZT, dpa, Reuters)