“I urged Prime Minister Pashinian to sustain momentum on peace negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia following the foreign ministers’ talks in Washington on November 7,” Blinken wrote on Twitter about the November 15 conversation that was earlier reported by Yerevan as well.
“The United States remains committed to these efforts,” the top U.S. diplomat added.
The readout of the phone call released by Pashinian’s office yesterday, in particular, said that Blinken “expressed the willingness of the United States to continue supporting the settlement of Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, as well as the Nagorno-Karabakh problem.”
“The two agreed to continue discussions on steps aimed at increasing the level of security and stability in the region, including the settlement of humanitarian issues,” it added.
Meanwhile, the U.S. secretary of state also had a phone call with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on November 16 “to discuss outcomes and next steps on the Armenian-Azerbaijani bilateral peace discussions.”
“The Secretary underscored U.S. support for the peace process and urged the two sides to schedule further talks, as agreed in Washington. He urged President Aliyev to maintain the ceasefire and limit provocations, while exploring confidence building measures with Armenia to set the stage for peace,” the readout of the phone call released by the U.S. State Department said.
Blinken praised Armenia and Azerbaijan for taking “courageous steps” toward peace as he hosted talks between Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov on November 7.
The two foreign ministers announced after their meeting that they “agreed to expedite the negotiations and organize another meeting in the coming weeks.”
The following days brought reports of ceasefire violations along the tense Armenian-Azerbaijani border and in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone as the parties blamed each other for the apparent escalation.
In an escalating war of words, meanwhile, Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev accused each other of failing to live up to their commitments under a Russia-brokered ceasefire that brought a deadly 44-day Armenian-Azerbaijani war over Nagorno-Karabakh to a close in November 2020.
Armenia’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday morning again denied that Armenian forces fired at Azerbaijani positions the previous night. It described the report by Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry about a ceasefire violation from the Armenian side as another “piece of disinformation.”
In an interview with Armenia’s leading news website CivilNet on November 15 Secretary of Armenia’s Security Council Armen Grigorian charged that by accusing Yerevan of ceasefire violations in recent days Baku is seeking to escalate the situation and unleash hostilities against its neighbor.
“At this moment, there is still a risk that Azerbaijan may carry out a military provocation against Armenia, and in this context we continue to work and strengthen our capabilities, as well as work with the international community so as not to allow such an escalation,” Grigorian said.
About three hundred soldiers were killed on both sides during several days of clashes along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in mid-September that proved to be the deadliest fighting between the two countries since the six-week war over Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020 when nearly 7,000 people were killed on both sides.
As Russia, which stopped the war and deployed its peacekeepers in the region two years ago, 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 U.S.-hosted talks between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan earlier this month were part of the broader Western efforts to facilitate a peace agreement between the two South Caucasus nations.