Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the Armenia-Azerbaijan normalization process in separate telephone conversations with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, the State Department announced.
According to a readout of the call from Pashinyan’s office, in addition to efforts related to the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the issue of the humanitarian challenges stemming from the more than 100,000 forcibly displaced Artsakh residents settling in Armenia were also addressed.
Matthew Miller, the State Department’s spokesperson, said that Blinken discussed the possibility of concluding a peace agreement between the two countries with Aliyev and Pashinyan.
Blinken “welcomed President Aliyev’s commitment to conclude a durable and dignified peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia,” Miller said adding that the Secretary of State “recognized the suffering that this long-standing conflict has caused Azerbaijanis and Armenians alike and underscored the benefits that peace would bring to everyone in the region.”
In addition, Blinken discussed the bilateral relations between the US and Azerbaijan with Aliyev, and “noted recent points of concern in the relationship and also spoke about opportunities to strengthen cooperation, especially around the peace process, and the importance of high-level engagement.”
Azerbaijani media claimed on Tuesday that Aliyev expressed dissatisfaction about some American officials’ “pro Armenian” statements, specifically referring to Assistant Secretary of State Jame O’Brien and the comments he made during a Congressional hearing earlier this month.
The State Department’s spokesperson said that Blinken “discussed U.S. support,” in his conversation with Pashinyan, “for efforts to reach a durable and dignified peace agreement.”
At the same time, the Secretary of State “reaffirmed the United States’ ongoing support for Armenia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” and “outlined efforts to increase bilateral cooperation with Armenia,” Miller said.
O’Brien told reporters on Monday that the U.S. sees a “real opportunity” for peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“We’re encouraged that the two sides are speaking with one another directly and with mediators. And with that, we see a real opportunity for the entire region to benefit. For example, if trade from Central Asia is able to flow through Azerbaijan and Armenia into Turkey, then it would be a substantial boost for all the countries on that trade route. And we’d welcome the opportunity to be part of that,” O’Brien said at a press briefing.
“At the same time, if the decision is made not to pursue that by peaceful means, then we would have to use whatever tools we could to avoid having that kind of trade route created. So we’ve been very clear with the parties about what we hope to see and about the consequences of moving forward otherwise. So we’ll look forward to seeing where the parties come out. We know they’ve expressed an interest in concluding a peace agreement very soon, and we would love to see that happen,” O’Brien added.