“Secretary Blinken encouraged finding solutions to outstanding issues and underscored that there is no military solution,” said Vedant Patel, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department. “He reaffirmed the importance of reopening the Lachin corridor to commercial and private vehicles.”
According to an official Azerbaijani readout of the call, Aliyev again claimed that the corridor was not blocked by Azerbaijani government-backed protesters and described reports to the contrary as “false Armenian propaganda.” He said that Russian peacekeepers and the International Committee of the Red Cross have escorted thousands of vehicles through that road over the last three months.
Aliyev again accused Armenia of shipping military personnel and weapons to Karabakh and said that an Azerbaijani checkpoint must be set up at the corridor.
Yerevan has rejected such demands, saying that they run counter to the terms of the Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani war. It has also strongly denied any military supplies to Karabakh.
The United States has repeatedly called on Baku to lift the road blockade that has caused serious shortages of food, medicine and other essential items in Karabakh. The U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, Kristina Kvien, made a point of visiting an Armenian border checkpoint leading to the Lachin earlier this month.
“The Lachin corridor should be opened immediately,” Kvien tweeted during the trip.
Blinken phoned Aliyev one day after speaking to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. He told both leaders that Washington remains committed to helping the two South Caucasus nations reach a “sustainable peace.”
The top U.S. diplomat organized and mediated the most recent meeting between Aliyev and Pashinian held in Munich on February 18. Louis Bono, a U.S. special envoy for Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks, visited Baku and Yerevan afterwards.
In a March 7 interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service, Bono made clear that the U.S. is not considering imposing sanctions on Baku because of the blockade.
During his phone conversation with Blinken, Pashinian expressed concern over “Azerbaijan’s increasingly aggressive rhetoric.” He and other Armenian officials have repeatedly accused Azerbaijan this month of planning a “new military aggression” against Armenia and Karabakh.
Aliyev on Tuesday blamed the Armenian side for increased ceasefire violations reported from the conflict zone in recent weeks.