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People try to remove car tyres from a car shop on fire after shelling by Azerbaijan's artillery in Stepanakert, the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, on Friday. Photo: AP

Mike Pompeo urges end to Armenia-Azerbaijan fighting but no signs of progress in conflict

  • Pompeo held separate meetings with Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers, but there was no meeting between the three
  • Azerbaijan’s Jeyhun Bayramove said he is committed to finding a political solution to the conflict and ready to resume talks ‘immediately’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday urged an end to fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh as he met his counterparts from Azerbaijan and Armenia, but there were no signs of progress.

Pompeo held separate meetings an hour apart with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, but there was no three-way meeting.

Pompeo, who did not speak alongside either minister, “emphasised the need to end the violence and protect civilians”, the State Department said.

He reiterated the US stance that the conflict should be resolved on the principles of “the non-use or threat of force, territorial integrity and the equal rights and self-determination of peoples”.

Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, left, meets US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, at the State Department in Washington on Friday. Photo: Reuters

For his part, Bayramov said he told Pompeo that the “Armenian occupation must end” of Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous region recognised internationally as part of Azerbaijan that is controlled by Armenian separatists backed by Yerevan, Armenia’s capital.

“We are committed to finding a political solution [to] the conflict and ready to resume substantive talks immediately,” Bayramov said in a statement after the talks.

“Armenia must stop avoiding meaningful negotiations and choose lasting peace,” he said.

Armenia and Azerbaijan accuse each other of breaking ceasefire

But Armenia said that the aggressor was Azerbaijan, which it accused of intentionally targeting civilian sites.

Mnatsakanyan told Pompeo that “this aggression of the Azerbaijani side takes place in Turkey’s direct involvement, which is expressed with direct military technical support, with the import of military terrorists from the region”.

Small groups of rival protesters backing Armenia and Azerbaijan confronted one another with slogans and signs outside the State Department, with a diplomatic security officer in a mask standing between them.


Deadly clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan reignite over Nagorno-Karabakh

Deadly clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan reignite over Nagorno-Karabakh

Ahead of the talks, Pompeo had kept expectations in check, noting that previous ceasefires have not held.

Russia has been at the forefront of diplomacy between the two former Soviet republics.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on October 22 that the death toll was nearing 5,000 in the worst flare-up in Nagorno-Karabakh in more than two decades.

Azerbaijan vows revenge after missile strike kills at least 12 civilians

The United States has officially voiced neutrality and is a co-chair of the so-called Minsk group with Russia and France on Nagorno-Karabakh.

Pompeo, however, recently characterised Armenia’s actions as defensive and has criticised the involvement of Turkey, a staunch ally of Azerbaijan.

The United States has a large and politically active Armenian diaspora but also strategic ties with Azerbaijan, a rare Muslim-majority nation to have strong relations with Israel.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Pompeo pushes for an end to fighting rges end to Armenia, Azerbaijan conflict but no progress seen