Erika Olson, the newly appointed deputy assistant secretary of state for Southern Europe and the Caucasus, arrived in Yerevan on Tuesday on the first leg of her tour of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The State Department said she will “promote regional cooperation and discuss bilateral issues.”
Olson was also due to participate in Yerevan in an annual meeting of the U.S. ambassadors to the three South Caucasus states joined by Andrew Schofer, the U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, and a senior official from the U.S. Agency for International Development. The diplomats accompanied her during her talks with Pashinian.
An Armenian government statement on the meeting said Pashinian discussed with the U.S. officials “processes taking place in the South Caucasus,” prospects for a Karabakh settlement and the Minsk Group’s peace efforts.
It said he also briefed them on Russian-led efforts to forge transport links between Armenia and Azerbaijan and facilitate a demarcation of their volatile border.
According to the statement, Olson reaffirmed Washington’s readiness to contribute to a “comprehensive” solution of the Karabakh conflict and help to resolve “humanitarian issues” such as the release of Armenian prisoners still held by Azerbaijan.
The U.S. ambassador to Armenia, Lynne Tracy, has repeatedly said that the conflict remains unresolved after last year’s Armenian-Azerbaijani war. “We do not see the status of Nagorno-Karabakh as having been resolved,” Tracy insisted on September 13.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry condemned those remarks. It echoed President Ilham Aliyev’s claims that Azerbaijan’s victory in the six-week war put an end to the conflict.
Olson met on Tuesday with Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigorian. The latter is a co-chairman of a Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani task force dealing with practical modalities of opening the Armenian-Azerbaijani border to cargo shipments.
The government statement said that “democratic reforms” in Armenia were also on the agenda of Pashinian’s talks with Olson. It said the prime minister praised the United States for continuing to support those reforms.