US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosted the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in New York on Monday in the first direct talks between the two sides since deadly border clashes earlier this month.
Blinken’s trilateral meeting with Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov came on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
What was discussed at the meeting?
“Blinken conveyed condolences for the lives lost and emphasized the need to prevent further hostilities, underscoring the importance of returning to the peace process,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
“They discussed next steps, and the secretary encouraged the sides to meet again before the end of the month,” Price added.
In Monday’s meeting, Armenian Foreign Minister Mirzoyan called for Azerbaijani armed forces to withdraw from Armenian territory and for “international mechanisms” to be introduced “to prevent further escalations,” a statement from the Armenian Foreign Ministry said.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s Bayramov said before the meeting that his country is “satisfied with the level of relations” with the US and added that his direct dialogue with Mirzoyan was not unusual.
“We are always open for meetings,” he said.
What is the conflict about?
For decades, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in tension over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. In 2020, a six-week war left thousands dead and saw Azerbaijan make significant territorial gains.
Intense artillery shelling broke out earlier this month, killing more than 170 among troops on both sides and rekindling tensions. Each country blamed the other for the initial provocation. Last week, Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed on a ceasefire.
Fighting between the two former Soviet states also threatens to pull Turkey, a key supporter of Azerbaijan, and Russia — Armenia’s security guarantor — into a broader conflict at a time when geopolitical tensions are already high.
Ahead of the talks, Blinken had said that Washington was “encouraged by the fact that the fighting has ceased and there have not been any additional military actions over the last few days.”
On Sunday, US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visited Armenia and decried “illegal and deadly attacks by Azerbaijan on Armenian territory.”