WASHINGTON—Secretary of State John Kerry held separate meetings Tuesday with foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan Eduard Nalbandian and Elmar Mammadyarov at the State Department, and stressed that the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was high on the agenda of discussions.
In welcoming Nalbandian, Kerry called Armenia “an important partner” and highlighted Armenia’s role in peacekeeping efforts in Afghanistan and Kosovo
“And one of the most issues, obviously, that we all really want to try to see resolved one day is the frozen conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh. It is critical that all the parties – when I say all the parties, I mean, obviously, the Azerbaijanis, but also Turkey, Russia, Iran, others – try to find a way to help break the impasse that has kept this struggle alive and always potentially dangerous,” said Kerry before meeting with Nalbandian.
“We also have other issues of great importance to us: the economic partnership, the development of the economy and strengthening of democracy, and the security of our friends, the Armenian people,” said Kerry.
Nalbandian said that the US and Armenia shared the same vision and realized that “it is important to continue efforts to find exclusively peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict based on the principles and norms of international law, particularly non-use of force, excessive force, self-determination, territorial integrity.”
The Armenian foreign minister also said that the US and Armenia share the same vision that “relations between Armenia and Turkey should be normalized without preconditions.”
“I’m sure and confident that with our joint efforts, we could elevate that to new heights. And the trust and understanding between our two countries is – are the best pillars to extend further our relations,” said Nalbandian.
Prior to meeting with Mammadyarov, Kerry stressed that he has had occasion to speak with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev on the issue of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process.
“As co-chair of the Minsk Group, we have a serious interest – the United States – in helping Azerbaijan and Armenia to be able to find a path forward. The last thing we want is a return to war and to conflict. I believe there is a path forward, and we will continue to work quietly and patiently in an effort to try to encourage the parties to be able to take either confidence-building measures that may get to further down the road or to find a way towards a settlement with respect to this issue,” said Kerry.
“We also have an interest in seeing Azerbaijan continue to walk down this road, march down the road towards greater democracy to help build the pluralism of the country and ultimately to be able to find a way for peace and stability in the region and with its neighbors,” added Kerry.
Mammadyarov told Kerry that Azerbaijan considers the US a strategic partner and expressed hope that the two can address challenges facing the region.
“One of the biggest problem of the conflict resolution with the neighbor Armenia, with whom we are definitely and desperately interested to live in peace with dignity, always that there will be all the negative outcome of the conflict will be in the past, and we will look to the bright future of successful cooperation and living next to each other as a good neighborhood,” said Mammadyarov.
The Azeri foreign minister said that he would discuss with Kerry ways to increase US involvement in the conflict resolution process.