“I spoke with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev today about how the United States can continue to support recent positive momentum on peace talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia,” Blinken tweeted after the call.
According to the U.S. State Department, the two men discussed “future concrete steps on the path to peace in the South Caucasus,” including the planned demarcation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and opening of transport links between the two nations.
“Secretary Blinken reiterated the United States stands ready to help by engaging bilaterally and with like-minded partners, including through our role as an OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair, to help the countries find a long-term comprehensive peace,” said the department spokesman, Ned Price.
Price did not mention plans for negotiating a comprehensive Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty sought by Baku.
In March, Azerbaijan presented Armenia with five elements which it wants to be at the heart of the treaty. They include a mutual recognition of each other’s territorial integrity. The Armenian government said they are acceptable to it in principle, setting the stage for official negotiations on the issue.
Armenian officials revealed earlier this month that Yerevan came up, for its part, with six other issues that should also be included on the agenda of the talks. They said the proposals relate to the future of status of Karabakh and the security of its ethnic Armenian population.
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov dismissed them on Tuesday, saying that they “can’t be called proposals.”
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian complained on Wednesday that Baku wants the planned talks on the peace treaty to focus only on its own ideas.
“That does not correspond to understandings reached by us in Brussels,” Pashinian said, referring to his April 6 meeting with Aliyev hosted by European Council President Charles Michel.
Speaking during a visit to the Netherlands, Pashinian also said that during that meeting Aliyev promised to free more Armenian soldiers who were taken prisoner during the 2020 war in Karabakh. The Azerbaijani leader has still not honored that pledge, he said.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry rejected Pashinian’s “baseless allegations” on Thursday. A ministry spokeswoman said they show that Yerevan is “far from being sincere about normalizing relations between the two countries.”
Incidentally, Blinken also discussed with Aliyev the “release of the remaining Armenian detainees,” according to the State Department spokesman.