WASHINGTON, (AFP) - A senior US diplomat met here this week with the self-styled foreign minister of Nagorno-Karabakh to discuss efforts to end the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the enclave, the State Department said Friday.
However, deputy spokesman Philip Reeker said Wednesday's meeting between the US envoy for the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, Rudy Perina, and "foreign minister," Naira Melkumian, did not mark a change in Washington's policy toward the enclave, which it regards as part of Azerbaijan.
"The United States does not recognize the so-called government or republic of Nagorno-Karabakh," Reeker told reporters. "The United States supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and recognizes that Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan and we believe that a political resolution to the conflict there must be achieved," he said.
Perina and Melkumian, whom Reeker described as a "representative" of Nagorno-Karabakh, "discussed the peace process," he said. "We have been meeting periodically and we've discussed it with representatives of local Nagorno-Karabakh authorities as part of the Minsk Group's efforts to promote a peaceful resolution to the dispute over the region," Reeker said.
The United States, along with France and Russia, is a co-chair of the Minsk Group, a 13-nation organization within the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Portugal, which currently holds the rotating OSCE presidency, is to host a meeting of the Minsk Group later this month.