US-Armenian-Azerbaijan meeting in Washington

WASHINGTON, DC — Official Washington has asked Baku and Yerevan “to consider how best to protect the rights and security” of people in Nagorno-Karabakh, a State Department spokesperson told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service, answering a question on whether issues related to Nagorno-Karabakh are being discussed in the U.S.-hosted Armenian-Azerbaijani talks.

Bilateral negotiations between Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov aimed at hammering out an agreement to normalize relations between the two South Caucasus nations opened in Washington on Monday after the two top diplomats met separately with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and then had a meeting all together.

As Mirzoyan and Bayramov went into talks that officials in Washington said could last “a few days” Blinken stressed the importance of dialogue for “reaching a lasting peace in the South Caucasus region.”

In written comments to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on May 2 the State Department spokesperson stressed that “the question of the rights and security of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh is central to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”

“Ultimately ensuring that this population can feel secure in their homes and have their rights protected is the only way to guarantee a lasting settlement to a conflict that has lasted too long and cost too many lives,” the official said, adding that the United States supports an agreement that is “durable, sustainable, and lays the foundations for peace.”

At the same time, the State Department emphasized that “the scope and nature of the agreement to normalize relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan is between the two parties.”

“We are honored to host the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan as they work toward peace. The United States remains committed to promoting a peaceful future for the South Caucasus region. Direct dialogue is key to resolving issues and reaching a lasting peace,” the spokesperson said.

“The scope and nature of the agreement to normalize relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan is between the two parties. Our goal is to provide a location where there can be bilateral discussions and the parties can undertake the real hard work together to make progress on lasting peace. Specifics on what is – and is not – part of their agreement is a question for the parties,” the U.S. official added.

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