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Armenia, Azerbaijan to hold U.S.-mediated peace talks

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov (L) looks on during a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) and Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan on the sidelines of the NATO Summit at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, on July 10, 2024.
| Photo Credit: AFP

Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet on July 10 in Washington for a fresh round of U.S.-mediated talks, Yerevan and Washington announced, as the arch-foe neighbours negotiate a peace agreement.

The Caucasus rivals fought two wars — in the 1990s and in 2020 — over control of Azerbaijan’s breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, which had been predominantly populated by ethnic Armenians.

Last autumn, Baku recaptured the mountainous enclave in a one-day offensive that led to the exodus of its entire Armenian population — more than 1,00,000 people.

Years of internationally mediated peace talks between Baku and Yerevan have failed to produce a breakthrough, but the two countries’ leaders said recently that a comprehensive peace deal is within reach.

“A trilateral meeting between Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be held on July 10,” Armenian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Ani Badalyan said.

The meeting will take place on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Washington, she added.

The meeting was listed on Mr. Blinken’s official schedule for Wednesday, 10:15 a.m. (1415 GMT), according to the U.S. Department of State’s website.

State Department spokesman, Matthew Miller, told reporters Tuesday that the U.S. continues “to work for a diplomatic resolution” of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, but refused to provide further details about the planned talks.

Mr. Blinken has led repeated talks between the countries in hopes of averting further conflict.

Last week, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said his country “needs a new constitution” because the current one “doesn’t reflect citizens’ vision of the relations with neighbouring countries”.

The statement came in response to Baku’s demand that Yerevan remove from its constitution a reference to the country’s 1991 declaration of independence from the Soviet Union, which proclaims Armenia’s unification with Karabakh as a national goal.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has said that reaching a peace agreement with Armenia is impossible until Armenia removes territorial claims to Karabakh from its constitution.

In May, Armenia returned to Azerbaijan four border villages that it had seized decades earlier, with Mr. Pashinyan saying the move was part of his efforts to secure peace with Azerbaijan.

Last month, Mr. Pashinyan said Yerevan was ready to sign a peace agreement with Baku “within a month”.

Mr. Aliyev said last week that the text of the agreement could be finalised within a matter of several months.

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