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U.S. Tells Armenia, Azerbaijan To Stick To Ceasefire


U.S. - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, in Washington, October 14, 2020.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Armenia and Azerbaijan on Tuesday to respect a ceasefire agreement brokered by the United States over the weekend.

Pompeo separately spoke by phone with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev amid continuing fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh reported by the two warring sides.

“Secretary Pompeo pressed the leaders to abide by their commitments to cease hostilities and pursue a diplomatic solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, and noted that there is no military solution to this conflict,” Morgan Ortagus, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman, said in in a statement.

According to Ortagus, Pompeo “stressed the importance of fully implementing the ceasefire” which was initially agreed in Moscow on October 10 and reaffirmed under French mediation on October 17.

The Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers reached another truce agreement after holding talks with Pompeo and U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien in Washington last Friday. They went on to hold a joint meeting on Saturday with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun and U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group.

The conflicting parties began accusing each other of ceasefire violations shortly after their fresh accord went into force on Monday morning. In particular, the Armenian side accused the Azerbaijani army of launching a “large-scale” offensive in southeastern Karabakh.

Later on Tuesday U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledged that the ceasefire is not holding. According to Reuters, Trump expressed optimism that the two sides will work things out but offered no other details.

“Yes, disappointing when you see that,” he told reporters at the White House. “That’s what happens when you have...countries that have been going at it for a long time. It’ll get back together.”

Pashinian said on Monday that he expects Washington to hold Azerbaijan responsible for the collapse of the ceasefire. He claimed that Baku is continuing to push for a military victory in the war despite what he described as Yerevan’s readiness for a compromise-based solution to the Karabakh conflict.

Meanwhile, Aliyev blamed Armenia for the continuing hostilities. He also accused the U.S., Russian and French mediators of helping the Armenian side.

In a joint statement issued on Sunday, the Minsk Group co-chairs said they and the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers agreed to meet again in Geneva on October 29. They said they will try to “reach agreement on, and begin implementation, in accordance with a timeline to be agreed upon, of all steps necessary to achieve a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in accordance with the basic principles accepted by the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia.”

It is not yet clear whether the Geneva talks will go ahead if the fighting in the conflict zone does not stop.

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