WASHINGTON –U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday praised Armenia and Azerbaijan for taking “courageous steps” toward a durable peace, as foreign ministers from the two South Caucasus met in Washington on Monday.

Blinken met with Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov at Blair House, a state guest house in Washington, just weeks after the worst fighting between the two countries since a 2020 war.

“What we are seeing now are real steps and courageous steps by both countries to put the past behind and to work toward a durable peace,” Blinken said in public comments opening the meeting on Monday.

Blinken said the talks would build on earlier discussions at the UN General Assembly in New York and other conversations between officials from Armenia, Azerbaijan and the United States.

“The United States as a friend to both Armenia and Azerbaijan is committed to doing everything that we can to support you in this effort,” he added.

The rest of the meeting was being held behind closed doors.

The two countries’ leaders met late last month in the Russian Black Sea port of Sochi, along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and agreed not to use force and to stick to earlier agreements that sought to end the fighting, Russia’s RIA news agency said.

The two sides earlier in October agreed to a EU mission alongside their shared border.

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