The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to meet in Washington on June 20 amid increased ceasefire violations in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.
The foreign ministries of the two warring nations announced the date and venue of the widely anticipated talks on Friday.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry said Azerbaijan’s “provocative” actions along “the line of contact” around Karabakh have created an “unfavorable environment” ahead of the talks. It referred to an upsurge in skirmishes there which began two weeks ago after several months of relative calm.
Two soldiers of Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army were shot dead on June 1 and June 13. The Azerbaijani military has also reported two combat deaths within its ranks in the two-week period. The two sides have accused each other of using not only small arms but also mortars.
The Karabakh Defense Army has said that Azerbaijani forces also fired dozens of rocket-propelled grenades. In a statement released on Wednesday, the army also said that Azerbaijani helicopters and unmanned aircraft have flown dangerous close to its frontline positions.
Tensions on the frontlines had eased significantly following the first meeting of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev held in Tajikistan in September. The two leaders also talked on four other occasions in the following months, raising some hopes about progress in the protracted Karabakh peace process.
Their foreign ministers, Zohrab Mnatsakanian and Elmar Mammadyarov, have also met on a regular basis in the presence of U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group.
The three mediators discussed preparations for the next Mnatsakanian-Mammadyarov meeting when they visited Yerevan, Stepanakert and Baku late last month. In a joint statement, they said they presented the conflicting parties with “proposals for concrete next steps in the settlement process.”