U.S. President Barack Obama called for renewed efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in a letter that was delivered to his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev on Monday.
James Warlick, the recently appointed U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, handed the letter to Aliyev during a visit to Baku.
“Now is the time to make new efforts to establish peace in the region within the framework of compromise reached during negotiations,” the Azerbaijani presidential press office quoted Obama as saying. It said he urged Aliyev to use “opportunities for direct dialogue with Armenia” in the coming months in order to end the “current impasse” in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks.
Obama apparently referred to a fresh meeting between Aliyev and President Serzh Sarkisian which the U.S., Russian and French mediators have been trying to arrange in recent months. Some observers expect such a summit to take place shortly Azerbaijan’s upcoming presidential election.
Aliyev and Sarkisian most recently met in the Russian city of Sochi in January 2012. They pledged at the time to intensify their efforts to agree on the Basic Principles of a Karabakh settlement put forward by the mediators. The negotiation process has remained essentially deadlocked since then, however.
Washington indicated its intention to kick-start the process when Secretary of State John Kerry held separate talks with the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers in Washington in June. “The last thing we want is a return to war and to conflict,” Kerry told Azerbaijan’s Elmar Mammadyarov.
“I believe there is a path forward, and we will continue to work quietly and patiently in an effort to try to encourage the parties to be able to take either confidence-building measures that may get to further down the road or to find a way towards a settlement with respect to this issue,” he added.