U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has appointed a senior diplomat as the new U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group that has long been trying to broker a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The diplomat, James Warlick, was until recently Washington’s deputy special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Warlick previously served as U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria and deputy assistant secretary of state.
“He is a first-rate diplomat, and I am confident that he will do a tremendous job in this critical post,” Kerry said in a statement issued late on Monday.
“The United States remains firmly committed to helping the sides reach a lasting and peaceful settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” he said. “In their joint statement on June 18, Presidents Obama, Putin, and Hollande called on the sides to focus with renewed energy on the issues that remain unresolved, and noted that the leaders should prepare their people for peace, not war.”
“Ambassador Warlick has the wisdom, judgment, and expertise to help the sides achieve that goal,” added Kerry.
Warlick will co-head the Minsk Group with fellow diplomats from Russia and France. The previous U.S. co-chair, Robert Bradtke, completed his mission last December. Bradtke was temporarily replaced by another State Department official, Ian Kelly.
Kelly and the two other co-chairs, Igor Popov and Jacques Faure, hosted fresh talks between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers in Vienna last month. In a joint statement, the mediators said they discussed the possibility of arranging an Armenian-Azerbaijani summit on Karabakh later this year. The mediators hope that the summit will break the current deadlock in the peace process.