John Kirby, White House National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications

WASHINGTON, DC — The United States has called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to defuse tensions in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone that have risen again in recent weeks.

“We urge all sides here to deescalate,” John Kirby, the White House national security spokesman, told a news briefing in Washington late on Tuesday.

“We don’t want to see any of this violence, and we want to see all sides take appropriate steps to deescalate the tension and to stop the violence,” he said.

Kirby refused to comment on the presence of Russian peacekeeping forces in Karabakh.

The U.S. State Department insisted on March 6 that Washington is not competing with Moscow in its efforts to facilitate an Armenian-Azerbaijani settlement.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed those efforts with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev in a phone call earlier on Tuesday. He spoke with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Monday.

According to the State Department, Blinken told the two leaders that Washington remains committed to helping the two South Caucasus nations reach a “sustainable peace.”

Armenian leaders have repeatedly accused Azerbaijan this month of planning a “new military aggression” against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Pashinyan expressed concern over “Azerbaijan’s increasingly aggressive rhetoric” during his conversation with Blinken.

Aliyev dismissed on Tuesday U.S. calls for an end to the three-month blockade of the sole highway connecting Karabakh to Armenia.

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