United States wades in cautiously to Armenia-Azerbaijan peace effort

  • United States wades in cautiously to Armenia-Azerbaijan peace effort

United States wades in cautiously to Armenia-Azerbaijan peace effort

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday met his counterparts from Armenia and Azerbaijan but there were no signs of progress in halting an eruption of fighting over contested Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Wednesday he could see no diplomatic resolution of the long-running conflict at this stage.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Moscow's information indicated that the combined death toll from the almost four weeks of fighting was approaching 5,000, a significantly higher number than officially reported by the warring parties.

Representatives from Baku and Yerevan previously held talks in Moscow and agreed on a humanitarian ceasefire twice - on 10 October and 17 October, but both countries have been accusing the opposite side of violating the deals.

"With full support from Turkey, Azerbaijan has attacked population centers, killing and wounding hundreds of civilians and driving more than half of Nagorno-Karabakh's population from their homes", the senators said. He said only a diplomatic solution to the crisis would be acceptable.

Armenia said the town of Martuni was shelled during the night, which Azerbaijan denied. According to Minister Mnatsakanyan, Azerbaijan's decision to become a zone of influence of Turkey and global terrorism - is a serious threat to regional security.

Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said this month he believed there was a military solution to the conflict, while his aide Hikmet Hajiyev said on Wednesday that Azerbaijan did not expect any breakthrough from the planned talks in Washington. Nagorno-Karabakh says its forces have repulsed repeated attacks and that the situation is under control.

Reiterating Azerbaijan's main condition for ending the fighting, Aliyev demanded promises that his country will be handed back control of Nagorno-Karabakh, which broke away as the Soviet Union collapsed.

"NATO is deeply concerned by ongoing violations of the cease-fire, which have caused tragic loss of life", said Stoltenberg, adding that ending hostilities and sufferings is important for both the alliance and worldwide security.

"It's important that the sides demonstrate restraint, observe the ceasefire regime and sit around the negotiation table".

Russia, along with the United States, has co-chaired the so-called Minsk Group set up by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to mediate in the conflict.

But Azerbaijan says mediation has achieved nothing in three decades and wants Turkey involved in peacemaking.

Also Wednesday, Turkey said it will not hesitate to send troops and provide military support to help Azerbaijan if such a request is made.

Azerbaijan reported fighting in several areas on Thursday, including territories near the line of contact that divides the sides.

Pompeo shook hands and exchanged pleasantries in separate meetings with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan an hour apart at the State Department.

Occupied-Karabakh said 874 of its military personnel had been killed since September 27, in addition to 37 civilians. Azerbaijan does not disclose its military death toll.