The diplomat, Philip Reeker, served as acting assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs from 2019-2021. He visited Armenia and Azerbaijan in that capacity in July 2021.
“The United States is committed to helping Armenia and Azerbaijan negotiate a long-term political settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” Blinken said in a statement.
“Ambassador Reeker will engage bilaterally, with like-minded partners such as the European Union, and through his role as an OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair, to facilitate direct dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” he added.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry denounced Blinken’s statement on Thursday, saying that the U.S. risks being left out of the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace process with its attempts to “revive the Minsk Group.”
“The Karabakh conflict is resolved and Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan,” a ministry spokeswoman said, echoing statements made by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
The U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, Lynne Tracy, has repeatedly stated over the past year that Washington considers the conflict unresolved because there is still no agreement on Karabakh’s status.
“It is U.S. policy that the status of Nagorno-Karabakh remains to be resolved,” she said in May.
In July, Tracy reaffirmed Washington’s stated readiness for renewed cooperation with Russia on facilitating a Karabakh settlement.
The Minsk Group has been co-headed by the U.S., Russia as well as France for nearly three decades. Moscow says Washington and Paris stopped working with it in that format following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Karen Donfried denied that when she visited Yerevan in June. She insisted that the Minsk Group remains a “very important format” for Washington.
The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed Donfried’s assurances. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed later in June that “the Minsk Group stopped its activities at the initiative of the American and French co-chairs.”