Blinken met with Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov at Blair House, a state guest house across from the White House.
“What we are seeing now are real steps and courageous steps by both countries to put the past behind and to work toward a durable peace,” Blinken said in public comments at the opening of the meeting.
Blinken said the talks would build on earlier discussions at the UN General Assembly in New York and other conversations between officials from Armenia, Azerbaijan and the United States.
“The United States as a friend to both Armenia and Azerbaijan is committed to doing everything that we can to support you in this effort,” he added, as quoted by Reuters.
The rest of the meeting was held behind closed doors.
The Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers met separately in Washington before their meeting with Blinken.
In a press release about the meetings the Armenian Foreign Ministry said that the ministers “shared views on the elements of a possible peace treaty and acknowledged that there is a range of issues that still need to be addressed.”
“Both sides reiterated the commitments undertaken by the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in their meetings on October 6 in Prague and October 31 in Sochi. They agreed to expedite their negotiations and organize another meeting in the coming weeks. Both ministers expressed their appreciation to the U.S. side for hosting the peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” the Armenian ministry said.
The talks come just weeks after the worst fighting between the two countries since a 2020 war over control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and President Ilham Aliyev, met on October 31 in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and agreed not to use force and to stick to earlier agreements that sought to end the fighting.
But as Moscow finds itself facing growing international isolation for its invasion of Ukraine, the United States and the European Union have stepped up efforts to mediate talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The two sides earlier in October agreed to a EU mission alongside their shared border.
Before the Washington talks opened Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other of fresh ceasefire violations along their tense border over the weekend, but reported no casualties.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on November 7 called on both parties to “refrain from actions and steps that could lead to an escalation of tensions.”
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a conflict over the mainly Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh region for years. Some 30,000 people were killed in a war in the early 1990s that left ethnic Armenians in control of the former autonomous oblast inside Soviet Azerbaijan as well as several adjacent districts of Azerbaijan proper.
The two sides fought another war in 2020 that lasted six weeks and killed thousands of people on both sides before a Russia-brokered cease-fire, resulting in Armenians losing control over parts of the region and seven adjacent districts.
Under the cease-fire Moscow deployed about 2,000 troops to the region to serve as peacekeepers.