US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosted the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in New York on Monday, marking the first direct talks between the two sides. Deadly border clash earlier this month,
Blinken’s tripartite meeting with Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and Azerbaijan Foreign Minister Zehun Bayramov took place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
What was discussed in the meeting?
State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement, “Blinken expressed condolences for those killed and stressed the need to stop further hostilities, underscoring the importance of returning to the peace process.”
“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 on the Azerbaijani armed forces to withdraw from Armenian territory and introduce “international mechanisms” to “prevent any further progress”, a statement from the Armenian Foreign Ministry said.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s Bayramov said before the meeting that his country was “satisfied with the level of relations” with the US and added that his direct talks with Mirzoyan were not unusual.
“We are always open for meetings,” he said.
What is the conflict about?
For decades, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in tensions over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. In 2020, thousands of people died in six weeks of war and Azerbaijan had significant territorial gains.
intense artillery fire Earlier this month, more than 170 were killed and tensions flared up again between soldiers on both sides. Each country blamed the other for the initial provocation. Last week, Armenia and Azerbaijan agree to a ceasefire,
Fighting between the two former Soviet states also threatens to draw Turkey, a major supporter of Azerbaijan and Russia – Armenia’s security guarantor – into a wider conflict, at a time when geopolitical tensions are already high.
Prior to the talks, Blinken said Washington was “enthused by the fact that fighting has ceased and that there has been no additional military action in the past few days.”
On Sunday, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Armenia and condemned “illegal and deadly attacks on Armenian territory by Azerbaijan”.