“In my meeting with Azerbaijani FM [Jeyhun Bayramov] I pressed for an immediate ceasefire, then a return to Minsk Group-facilitated negotiations with Armenia and rejection of outside actors further destabilizing the situation. There is no military solution,” the U.S. National Security Council quoted O’Brien as saying on its Twitter page.
O’Brien made a somewhat different comment on his separate talks with Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian. He said they met to “discuss the need for an immediate ceasefire” and the resumption of Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks mediated by the three Minsk Group co-chairs: the U.S., Russia and France.
“The U.S. will continue our strongest diplomatic efforts at all levels until the conflict is resolved,” added President Donald Trump’s key adviser.
The Trump administration invited Bayramov and Mnatsakanian to Washington as part of its efforts to stop the nearly month-long war in and around Karabakh. The two ministers also separately met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier on Friday.
Pompeo said he discussed with them “critical steps to halt violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.” He did not report any fresh Armenian-Azerbaijani agreements that effect.
Trump spoke afterwards of “really good progress” made in U.S. mediation efforts. But he did not elaborate.
“We don’t yet know what progress they are talking about,” a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin told the RIA Novosti news agency on Friday night.
Putin expressed hope on Thursday that Washington will contribute to Russian efforts to get the conflicting parties to respect a ceasefire agreement that was brokered by Moscow on October 10.
A similar “humanitarian” truce agreement brokered by France on October 17 has also not been observed. Both warring sides reported on Friday fresh fighting and shelling of civilian areas in the conflict zone.
At his meeting with O’Brien, Mnatsakanian again held Turkey responsible for the continuing bloodshed. According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, he claimed that Ankara is keen to destabilize the region by recruiting Middle Eastern “terrorist fighters” for the Azerbaijani army and providing other military assistance to Baku.
The Turkish and Azerbaijani governments deny Turkey’s direct involvement in the ongoing war.
Pompeo criticized Ankara’s role in the Karabakh escalation last week. “We now have the Turks, who have stepped in and provided resources to Azerbaijan, increasing the risk, increasing the firepower that’s taking place in this historic fight,” he said.