U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday condemned what she called Azerbaijan’s “unlawful” attack on Armenia that sparked the worst fighting since their 2020 war.
Baku and Yerevan have blamed each other for sparking Tuesday’s border clashes, which claimed the lives of more than 200 people.
“We strongly condemn these attacks – on behalf of Congress – which threaten (the) prospects for the much-needed peace agreement,” Pelosi told reporters in Yerevan.
“Armenia has special significance for us because of the security focus following an illegal and deadly attack by Azerbaijan on Armenian territory.”
The attack was an “attack on (the) sovereignty of Armenia”, she added.
Hostilities between sworn enemies in the Caucasus ended Thursday night thanks to US mediation, Armenian parliament speaker Alen Simonyan said.
Previous attempts by Russia to negotiate a truce have failed.
“We are grateful to the United States for the fragile ceasefire agreement reached through their mediation,” he told reporters alongside Pelosi.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also spoke with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Sunday, according to a State Department reading of their appeal.
Blinken “urged President Aliyev to respect the ceasefire, disengage military forces and work to resolve all outstanding issues between Armenia and Azerbaijan through peaceful negotiations,” the spokesperson said. lyrics by Ned Price.
– American-Armenian rapprochement –
Pelosi’s visit marks a growing closeness between Washington and Yerevan where frustration is mounting over the lack of support from Armenia’s traditional ally Moscow, distracted by its nearly seven-month war in Ukraine.
Russia – which has a treaty obligation to defend Armenia in the event of a foreign invasion, but which also has close ties to Baku – has not rushed to help Yerevan despite a formal request for military aid.
“We asked for military assistance and our request was not granted. Obviously, we are not satisfied,” Armenian Security Council President Artyom Grigoryan said on Friday.
Pelosi, who arrived in Yerevan on Saturday for a three-day visit, is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Armenia since the tiny nation gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
On Sunday morning, a tearful Pelosi laid flowers at Yerevan’s hilltop memorial to the 1.5 million Armenians killed in the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
Armenia has long demanded international recognition of the bloodshed as genocide – a claim fiercely rejected by Turkey but backed by many other countries.
Pelosi said she was “proud” to travel to Yerevan after US President Joe Biden officially recognized the Armenian Genocide last year.
“It is everyone’s moral duty to never forget: an obligation that has taken on added urgency as atrocities are being perpetrated around the world, including by Russia against Ukraine,” Pelosi said Saturday.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars – in the 1990s and in 2020 – over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian enclave of Azerbaijan.
Pelosi said: “In Congress, in a bipartisan way, we hold Turkey (Baku’s ally) responsible – as well as Azerbaijan – for the conflict that exists in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
– Decades-long talks –
Along with France and Russia, the United States co-chairs the Minsk Group of Mediators, which for decades led peace talks between Baku and Yerevan under the aegis of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The Minsk group is largely defunct as Moscow faces growing isolation on the world stage following its invasion of Ukraine in February.
The European Union has played a leading role in mediating the normalization process between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Analysts said the hostilities had largely undone Western efforts to bring Baku and Yerevan closer to a peace deal.
The six-week war in 2020 claimed the lives of more than 6,500 soldiers on both sides and ended in a Russian-brokered ceasefire.
As part of the deal, Armenia ceded swathes of territory it had controlled for decades and Moscow deployed around 2,000 Russian peacekeepers to oversee the fragile truce.
Ethnic Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The ensuing conflict claimed an estimated 30,000 lives.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)