During a press briefing in Washington on August 15, Vedant Patel, principal deputy spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, said that Washington remains “deeply concerned about the continued closure of the Lachin corridor, specifically its closure to commercial, humanitarian, and private vehicles.”
“The halting of this kind of humanitarian traffic, in our opinion, worsens the humanitarian situation and undermines the efforts that have been in place to build confidence in the peace process. And so we urge the Government of Azerbaijan to restore free transit of commercial, humanitarian, and private vehicles through this corridor,” Patel said.
He added that the United States expected “further discussions” to take place during an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Nagorno-Karabakh that would be held at Armenia’s request in New York on August 16.
The U.S. Department of State official reiterated Washington’s position on Armenian-Azerbaijan negotiations, saying that “direct dialogue is essential to resolving this longstanding conflict [over Nagorno-Karabakh].”
“We think that any engagements that ultimately bring peace and stability to the people of the South Caucasus would be a good thing and a positive step forward,” Patel said.
The call from the U.S. official came as ethnic Armenian authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh reported the first death from hunger among residents of the region that they say has experienced severe shortages of food, medicines, fuel and other basic supplies because of Azerbaijan’s effective blockade.
Baku denies blockading the region and offers an alternative route of supply via the eastern town of Agdam, which is rejected by Karabakh Armenians who fear it could be a prelude to their absorption into Azerbaijan.