US's Blinken presses peace in calls with Armenian, Azerbaijani leaders

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke separately with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan on Monday to try to nudge the former Soviet republics, which fought a six-week war in 2020 over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, toward peace.

In nearly identical statements, the State Department said Blinken had discussed the two nations' “historic opportunity to achieve peace in the region” with both Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

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Blinken hailed a recent meeting between the two countries' foreign ministers, encouraged continued dialogue and offered US assistance in “facilitating regional transportation and communication linkages,” the department said in its statements.

The dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous territory inside Azerbaijan controlled since the 1990s by ethnic Armenians, flared in 2020 into a six-week war in which Azeri troops regained swathes of territory. The two sides agreed to work on a peace plan after Russia brokered a ceasefire.

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