“I spoke with Prime Minister Pashinian about steps to restart bilateral peace discussions with Azerbaijan, the only path for a durable peace between the two countries,” tweeted Blinken. “I also expressed deep concern over the worsening humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
“The Secretary expressed deep concern for the worsening humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, resulting from the blockage of the Lachin corridor,” Ned Price, the U.S. State Department spokesman, said in a statement on the call.
The United States has repeatedly called for the immediate reopening of Karabakh’s land link with Armenia since it was blocked by Azerbaijani government-backed protesters on December 12. Azerbaijan has dismissed such calls, also made by other world powers, saying that the protesters are right to demand that Baku be allowed to inspect “illegal” mining in Karabakh.
Pashinian was cited by his office as telling Blinken that the Azerbaijani blockade constitutes a gross violation of the Russian-brokered agreement that stopped the 2020 war in Karabakh.
The two men spoke hours after Karabakh authorities accused Azerbaijan of again blocking Armenia’s supplies of natural gas to Karabakh.
Supplies of electricity from Armenia to Karabakh were similarly blocked by Baku on January 10, leading to rolling power cuts in the Armenian-populated territory. The energy crisis compounded shortages of food, medicine and other essential items endured by local residents.
Citing the disruptions in electricity and gas supplies, the authorities in Stepanakert decided later on Wednesday to temporarily shut down Karabakh schools and some colleges.
According to Price, Blinken also praised Pashinian’s “commitment to peace” and discussed with him “steps to restart bilateral talks with Azerbaijan.”
The State Department spokesman said early this month that Blinken is planning to talk to the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers in the coming days.