WASHINGTON, DC — The US co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group has expressed concerns about the recent days’ escalation along the Nagorno-Karabakh Line of Contact and the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

In an interview with Voice of America, James Warlick called for strong efforts towards relaxing the tension, expressing hope that the upcoming Russia-mediated meeting between the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents later today may mark a progress in the peace talks over Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Of course, we are very concerned about the situation along the Line of Contact, and as you see, the situation is not frozen at all. Tell a mother of a dead or injured soldier that that this isn’t a frozen conflict. This hasn’t been a frozen conflict. And we are very concerned about the escalations.

“And there are things that should be done about this escalation. The first thing is that – I am very pleased to see – that the presidents may be meeting each other in Sochi today or tomorrow, and we hope that they can make progress on key issue, especially putting in it the violence on the Line of Contact,” he said.

The US diplomat further expressed the mission’s hope that the meeting will help put an end to threats and provocative rhetoric. “They don’t bring us closer to peace,” he said. “They incite violence, and we are going to find a way to a lasting settlement. We need to see an end to the hostile rhetoric and this kind of provocative threats. So one of the outcomes of this very important meeting with President Putin, I hope, will be a commitment from both sides that they will end this hostile rhetoric, respect the ceasefire and work with the co-chairs towards a peaceful settlement.”

Warlick noted that Russia has a lot of concerns in its neighborhood and certainly it does not want to add its problems by increasing hostilities in Karabakh. “We have worked productively with the Russian co-chair to help to find negotiated settlement, and we will continue to do that. Russia has no interest in seeing renewed violence, instability so close to its borders, nor do we want to see it,” he said in the interview.

Asked why Russia is supplying weapons to Azerbaijan, Warlick said Russia is free to have commercial relations with any country it chooses, like the United States.

“That does not prohibit them from working productively with us to find the way to peace,” the diplomat noted.

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