YEREVAN — The United States is looking into last year’s forced exodus of Nagorno-Karabakh’s  Armenian population to determine whether it was the result of ethnic cleansing, Samantha Power, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the end of a two-day visit to Armenia, Power said Washington also continues to champion the Karabakh Armenians’ right to safely return to their homeland captured by Azerbaijan in September 2023. Their repatriation requires “a change in circumstances on the ground right now,” she cautioned without elaborating.

Power witnessed the flow of refugees and spoke to some of them when she visited an Armenian border area adjacent to the Lachin corridor in September 2023. She announced at the time $11.5 million in U.S. humanitarian assistance to displaced Karabakh Armenians.

Power again met with refugees during her latest trip to Armenia that involved talks with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, other government officials as well as business leaders and civic activists. She praised Armenian government efforts to help the Karabakh Armenians.

Power praised steps taken by the RA Government to solve Karabakh refugees problems, including the housing provision program. In this context, Prime Minister Pashinyan emphasized the importance of the continued support of the international community and the implementation of the agreements reached at the RA-EU-US high-level meeting held in Brussels on April 5.

At the news conference in Yerevan, the U.S. official declined to say whether she believes that Azerbaijan carried out ethnic cleansing in Karabakh. She said the U.S. State Departments “investigates” the events of September 2023 and will come up with a “legal determination of what happened” in due course.

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