WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in separate talks on Monday about the “positive steps” the two countries are taking toward a peace agreement, the State Department said.
Blinken cited recent direct talks between the two countries’ leaders and foreign ministers, and he urged them to continue “time-bound and measurable steps to support the peace process,” statements released by the State Department said.
In his discussion with Aliyev, Blinken also welcomed Azerbaijan’s release of 17 prisoners of war to Armenia.
Blinken in his talks with the two leaders reiterated U.S. support for clear border delimitation, transportation linkages, recovery and identification of missing persons, return of detainees and other issues.
“He underscored the importance of discussions about the rights and securities for the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh and the need for both sides to maintain the cease-fire and focus on a negotiated agreement as the only path to a lasting peace,” the statements said.
Armenia and Azerbaijan on Friday agreed to a civilian European Union mission alongside the countries’ border, where the worst fighting between the two ex-Soviet states since 2020 killed more than 200 people late last month.
Blinken welcomed plans for the civilian EU mission along the border in his discussion with Pashinyan, the State Department said.
(Reporting by Chris Gallagher and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Mark Porter)