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U.S. ‘Alarmed’ By Karabakh Hostilities


U.S. -- U.S. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus stands at the lectern during a press conference at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, June 10, 2019

The United States on Sunday called for an immediate halt to deadly hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh and warned “external parties” against participating in them.

“The United States condemns in the strongest terms this escalation of violence,” Morgan Ortagus, the spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said in a statement.

She said U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun phoned Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s foreign ministers “to urge both sides to cease hostilities immediately, to use the existing direct communication links between them to avoid further escalation, and to avoid unhelpful rhetoric and actions that further raise tensions on the ground.”

“The United States believes participation in the escalating violence by external parties would be deeply unhelpful and only exacerbate regional tensions,” added Ortagus.

It was not clear if she referred to Turkey, which has stepped up diplomatic and military support for Azerbaijan in recent months.

Ortagus also urged Baku and Yerevan to “return to substantive negotiations as soon as possible.” “As a Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, the United States remains committed to helping the sides achieve a peaceful and sustainable settlement to the conflict,” she said.

The two other Minsk Group co-chairs, Russia and France, also voiced concern at the most large-scale fighting in the Karabakh conflict zone in years. Similar statements were issued by the European Union.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts by phone earlier on Sunday.

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