The United States has praised the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan for meeting and discussing the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on Tuesday for the first time in almost two years.
“We commend the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan for this first step, and are encouraged they have agreed to a follow-up meeting in the months ahead,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement issued just hours after the meeting in Vienna.
“Their first meeting in almost two years, this summit is an important step toward restarting dialogue and demonstrates the leaders’ shared commitment to bring an end to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group along with Russia and France, the United States urges both presidents to work actively towards a peaceful resolution to the conflict, which has taken a heavy toll on the people on all sides,” added Psaki.
James Warlick, the Minsk Group’s U.S. co-chair who was present at the summit along with fellow mediators from France and Russia, also sounded satisfied. "I was pleased with the outcome of the meeting, and look forward to developing next steps when we see the foreign ministers in Kiev in early December," Warlick told the Azerbaijani Trend news agency on Wednesday.
In a joint statement issued in Vienna, the three co-chairs said Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev agreed to “advance” the peace process that has effectively been deadlocked for the past two years. The Armenian and Azerbaijani governments themselves have not commented on the talks yet.
Also welcoming the renewed face-to-face contacts between Aliyev and Sarkisian was Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leadership. “We believe that the meeting proves that there is no alternative to the peaceful settlement and serves to ensure its irreversibility,” the Foreign Ministry of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic said in a statement.
The statement also warned, “At the same time, we consider it necessary to note that real progress in the settlement process could only be reached by taking into consideration the existing realities and with the restoration of full-format negotiations with direct and immediate participation of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic in all its stages.”