Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday announced the appointment of Louis L. Bono as the United States new senior advisor for Caucasus negotiations. He will replace Ambassador Philip Reeker who last month retired.
“I am appointing Louis L. Bono, a member of the Senior Foreign Service, as Senior Advisor for Caucasus Negotiations. In this capacity, Mr. Bono will work with regional leaders to advance the peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan and to address Russia’s ongoing occupation of sovereign Georgian territory,” Blinken said in a statement issued by the State Department.
“Mr. Bono brings a wealth of multilateral and bilateral experience to the position, having served as Acting Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Offices in Vienna and Chargė d’Affaires, ad interim to the Holy See. He has also served as Director of the Basrah Regional Office, on the National Security Council, and as an advisor to the Deputy Secretary of State and to the Under Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs. He is retired from the Army Reserves, where he was an instructor at West Point and the Army War College,” added Blinken.
“The United States is committed to helping Armenia and Azerbaijan negotiate a comprehensive peace agreement, including a long-term political settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Mr. Bono will engage bilaterally, with likeminded partners, including the European Union, and with international organizations, such as the OSCE, to facilitate direct dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” explained the secretary of state.
“His appointment also reaffirms the importance the United States places on Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the role of the Geneva International Discussions on Georgia, the only international format addressing Russia’s ongoing occupation of 20 percent of Georgia’s territory,” Blinken added.
In recent weeks the State Department, and Blinken himself, have called for the opening of the Lachin Corridor to unimpeded traffic. The corridor, which has been blockaded by Azerbaijan since December 12, has created an acute humanitarian crisis for the Armenian living in Artsakh, who have had to endure severs food, gas, electricity shortages, as well as an impact on the entire educational and healthcare systems of the country.
The State Department also said that Blinken is “personally” committed to the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The secretary of state has hosted talks between the foreign ministers of the two countries and last week held discussions with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, during which he emphasized the need to open the Lachin Corridor.