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U.S. Official Concerned About Karabakh ‘Stalemate’


Georgia -- Alexander Vershbow, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, in Tbilisi, 20Oct2009

Georgia -- Alexander Vershbow, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, in Tbilisi, 20Oct2009

A senior U.S. official has reportedly expressed concern about a “dangerous stalemate” in the long-running international efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.


Alexander Vershbow, the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency on Friday as saying that Armenia and Azerbaijan have taken “a step back” since the last meeting of their presidents held in Kazan, Russia on June 24.

“Efforts to achieve a breakthrough in the Kazan talks were not successful, and tension along the [Armenian-Azerbaijani] line of contact is rising,” he said during hearings at the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe held late on Thursday.

According to Itar-Tass, Vershbow added that Yerevan and Baku are unable to finalize the basic principles of a Karabakh settlement proposed by the United States, Russia and France and that “we remain in a non-constructive and dangerous stalemate.”

The remarks contrasted with more upbeat statements made by the U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group. The mediators said early this month that Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev did make progress at Kazan despite failing to bridge their remaining differences on the basic principles.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who hosted the Kazan summit, has presented his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts with a set of unpublicized proposals meant to break the impasse. Both Aliyev and Sarkisian have responded to those proposals in writing. The content of their letters to Medvedev is not yet known.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had phone conversations with the two presidents shortly after the summit.
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