The U.S. should halt military assistance to Azerbaijan and put more pressure on Turkey to stop its interference in the conflict with Armenia over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia’s ambassador to the U.S. said in an interview with The Hill.
Varuzhan Nersesyan, Yerevan’s representative in Washington, was speaking ahead of a summit expected to take place this month with Armenia’s Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoArrest of former defense secretary rattles US-Mexico security ties Ocasio-Cortez, progressives call on Senate not to confirm lobbyists or executives to future administration posts China accuses US of trying to destabilize Tibet with appointment of human rights envoy MORE.
The meeting, while occurring amid the annual strategic dialogue between the U.S. and Armenia, is taking on new urgency over efforts to secure a ceasefire and calm weeks of fierce fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan that has killed dozens of civilians, injured hundreds more and displaced tens of thousands.
Nersesyan said preparations are being made for the foreign minister’s visit ahead of an official announcement expected by Armenia’s Foreign Ministry and the State Department.
“We’re working on the preparation of the foreign minister’s visit to Washington,” Nersesyan said.
The outbreak of fighting last month, the fiercest in decades with heavy military firepower on both sides, has drawn renewed international attention to the more than 30-year stalemate of negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, which falls within sovereign Azerbaijan but is controlled by ethnic-Armenians.
Armenians view the territory, which they call Artsakh, as part of their historic homeland while Azerbaijan says the area is under an illegal military occupation.
The arrival of Armenia’s foreign minister in the U.S. could signal a greater push by the Trump administration to engage itself in mediation and peace efforts following the quick unraveling of an attempted ceasefire negotiated by Russia on Oct. 10.
The international community has largely regarded the U.S. as absent from efforts to calm tensions between both sides, with little public comment from President Trump on the weeks-long fighting.
Yet the U.S. — along with France and Russia — is a co-chair of the Minsk group, which is tasked with mediating a political settlement to the status of Nagorno-Karabakh and has urged both sides to abide by the ceasefire earlier mediated by Moscow as the group works to reach a negotiated political settlement.
The ambassador said he would welcome Trump taking a more active role as a mediator in the Southern Caucasus in implementing a ceasefire and called for the U.S. to exercise more pressure on Turkey, which has put its support behind Azerbaijan, to stay out of the conflict.
“Secretary Pompeo made a comment which we appreciate, where he says that Turkey reinforces Azerbaijan in this war,” said Nersesyan, referring to remarks by the secretary saying Ankara is “increasing the risk” of the fighting by providing firepower and resources to Baku.
“However at this stage, what is needed is a robust action, not