Blinken urges diplomacy as the FMs of Armenia and Azerbaijan meet


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken receives the foreign ministers for the first meeting since the deadly border clashes last week.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has pushed for “a lasting peace” between Armenia and Azerbaijan as the top US diplomat brought the two countries’ foreign ministers together for their first face-to-face meeting since an outbreak of violence last week. .

Blinken received Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly on Monday at a hotel in New York City.

It was the first face-to-face meeting of foreign ministers since two days of shelling last week.

Blinken said he was “encouraged” that there had been no violence for several days. “Strong, lasting diplomatic engagement is the best path for everyone,” he said before the meeting.

“There is a path to a lasting peace that resolves differences through diplomacy. The United States is ready to do everything possible to support these efforts. And I am grateful to both my colleagues for being here today to continue this conversation.”

The meeting was held just a day after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Armenia and condemned Azerbaijan’s attacks and complaints from Baku.

“Pelosi’s baseless and unfair accusations against Azerbaijan are unacceptable,” the country’s foreign ministry said in a statement. “This is a serious blow to efforts to normalize relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”

The National Security Council in Armenia has revised the death toll from last week’s fighting from 136 to 207, bringing the total number of fatalities on both sides to 286.

A ceasefire went into effect on Wednesday following 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 are embroiled in a decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan that has been under the control of Armenian-backed ethnic Armenian forces since 1994.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have blamed each other for the latest shelling, with Armenian authorities accusing Baku of unprovoked aggression and Azerbaijani officials saying their country was responding to Armenian attacks.

Prior to Monday’s meeting in New York City, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Bayramov said his country is “satisfied with the level of relations” with the US.

Bayramov also said his direct conversations with his Armenian counterpart Mirzoyan were not unusual. “We are always open to meetings,” he says.

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