Pompeo to welcome Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers amid deadly clashes

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According to US government documents seen by POLITICO, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov will first meet with Pompeo on Friday morning. His Armenian counterpart, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, will meet with the US Secretary of State shortly after.

The State Department also did not respond to an email seeking comment.

In an interview on Monday, Azerbaijani Ambassador to the United States Elin Suleymanov did not rule out the possibility of a meeting between the Armenian and Azerbaijani ministers during their stay in Washington.

Ideally, he said, the two countries can resume constructive negotiations soon. “We want a substantive conversation,” he said.

Armenian Ambassador to Washington Varuzhan Nersesyan praised Pompeo for having recently reprimanded Turkey for supporting Azerbaijan during the conflict.

“We do not see any alternative to the peaceful resolution of this conflict based on mutual compromise,” Nersesyan said in an interview.

The background: Armenia and Azerbaijan are fighting for a region called Nagorno-Karabakh, whose status has been a critical point between the two countries for decades.

The territory is in Azerbaijan, but it is under the control of the Armenian ethnic forces supported by Armenia. The recent violence is the worst in the region since a war in the region ended in 1994.

Outside powers, especially Turkey and Russia, also have interests in the region. Turkey has openly supported Azerbaijan in the recent fighting; Russia has a defense pact with Armenia, but has also sought warm ties with Azerbaijan.

The United States, along with Russia and France, co-chair the so-called Minsk Group, a body that has sought to negotiate an end to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

As the fighting progressed in recent weeks, Pompeo called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to adhere to the agreed ceasefires, but those truces quickly collapsed. Pompeo also urged Turkey, a U.S. ally in NATO, not to escalate the crisis.

“We now have the Turks, who have stepped in and provided resources to Azerbaijan, increasing the risk, increasing the firepower that is going on in this historic fight,” Pompeo told an Atlanta media outlet.

“The resolution of this conflict must be done through negotiation and peaceful discussions, and not through armed conflict,” added Pompeo, “and certainly not with third countries coming to lend their firepower to what is already a powder keg. of a situation. ”

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