Blinken urges Armenia, Azerbaijan to continue progress toward peace settlement

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday encouraged Azerbaijan and Armenia to keep up momentum toward a peace settlement after protests in Armenia over perceived concessions.

Blinken, flying to the Middle East, spoke by telephone with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, the State Department said.

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In the call with Pashinyan, Blinken affirmed “US support for progress between Armenia and Azerbaijan on a durable and dignified peace agreement,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement ahead of a refueling stop in Ireland.

Blinken had led repeated talks between the rival nations in hopes of averting further conflict, but Azerbaijan in September seized the breakaway flashpoint region of Nagorno-Karabakh in a lightning offensive.

But the Caucasus countries have since resumed diplomacy and over the past week began physical demarcation of a contested border section.

Pashinyan has agreed to return four abandoned villages that Yerevan seized in the 1990s, saying he is moving to prevent war and not sacrificing sovereignty but triggering protests in Armenia.

Blinken told Pashinyan that the United States was ready to support the “sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Armenia, which historically has been close to Russia but was angered by Moscow’s failure to stop the Azerbaijani offensive last year.

Read more:

Armenians protest land transfer to Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan says ‘closer than ever’ to Armenia peace deal amid border talks

Armenia agrees to return four villages to Azerbaijan, Baku says

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