By Kasim Ileri
WASHINGTON (AA) – U.S. Vice President Joe Biden urged Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders on Friday to respect a recently agreed cease-fire.
In separate telephone calls to President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia, Biden welcomed the deals between both sides “during the discussions led by the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] Minsk Group co-chair countries in Vienna on May 16,” the White House said in a statement.
The Armenian and Azerbaijan leaders met on Tuesday in the Austrian capital in a meeting co-chaired by the French, Russian and U.S. foreign ministers.
“The leaders agreed on the importance of quickly following through on the pledge to expand the existing OSCE mission and to finalize an OSCE investigative mechanism,” according to the White House.
Biden noted the importance of planned discussions in June to resuming negotiations on a comprehensive settlement.
The international community recognizes occupied Karabakh as Azerbaijani territory but it was taken over by Armenian secessionists when the Soviet Union broke up in the late 1980s.
Despite a peace deal in 1994, border skirmishes are a frequent occurrence.
At the beginning of last month, tensions escalated into the worst outbreak of fighting since 1994, resulting in the deaths of more than 270 military personnel.