Nagorny Karabakh: Pompeo calls on Yerevan and Baku to end violence

The head of US diplomacy met separately with his Azerbaijani and then Armenian counterparts at the State Department in Washington.

Mike Pompeo on October 22, 2020 in Washington.

AFP

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to “end the violence and protect civilians” in the separatist province of Nagorno Karabakh, the scene of a bloody conflict for three weeks.

Mike Pompeo met separately with his Azerbaijani counterparts Djeyhoun Baïramov and then Armenian Zohrab Mnatsakanian at the State Department in Washington. There was no three-way meeting.

The head of US diplomacy “stressed the need to end the violence and protect civilians,” the ministry said. He reiterated Washington’s wish that the conflict be resolved “without the use or threat of force, (respecting) territorial integrity and the rights to equality and self-determination of the population”.

Armenia and Azerbaijan accuse each other of having targeted the civilian population since the start of hostilities on September 27 in this mountainous region of Azerbaijan controlled by Armenian separatists backed by Yerevan.

«Occupation»

Djeyhoun Baïramov assured to have asked Mike Pompeo that Armenia put an end to the “occupation” of Nagorno Karabakh. “We are committed to finding a diplomatic solution to the conflict and are ready to immediately resume serious talks,” he said in a statement. “Armenia must stop avoiding important negotiations and choose lasting peace,” he added.

Zohrab Mnatsakanian, for his part, accused Baku of being the source of the violence and Turkey of being directly involved in the conflict “with military technical support (and) sending military terrorists to the region”.

Small groups of protesters carrying posters in support of Armenia and Azerbaijan shouted at each other outside the State Department building, separated by a ministry security officer.

Prudence

Before these meetings, Mike Pompeo had been cautious about the outcome of these discussions, stressing that two previous ceasefires had not been respected. The United States, like Russia, have increased calls for a ceasefire in Nagorno Karabakh, an Armenian-majority region that seceded from Azerbaijan after the fall of the USSR, during a war that 30,000 dead.

Washington is part, along with France and Russia, of the Minsk Group long formed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to be the main mediator in this conflict. Russia is currently on the front lines in an attempt to provide a diplomatic response to the hostilities, which have left nearly 5,000 dead according to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Washington has officially remained neutral, but Mike Pompeo recently said he hoped Armenia could “defend itself” against Azerbaijan and criticized the involvement of Turkey, an ally of Baku. The United States has a large Armenian community and has strategic ties with Azerbaijan, one of the few Muslim nations to have strong diplomatic relations with Israel.

(AFP/NXP)


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