By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The US State Department welcomed on Friday ongoing bilateral talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan before a key meeting geared toward the establishment of peace in the south Caucasus.
"We remain committed to promoting a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future for the South Caucasus region," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on a conference call.
"As part of that, we do urge this dialogue to continue, and for the parties to intensify their diplomatic engagements, to make use of existing mechanisms for direct engagement in an effort to find comprehensive solutions to all outstanding issues related to or resulting from the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and, to normalize their relations," he added.
The US remains ready to assist Yerevan and Baku in the efforts, added Price.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashiyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev are slated to hold a trilateral meeting this weekend in Brussels with European Council President Charles Michel. The meeting will mark the second such sit-down in as many months as the parties seek to broker a peace agreement.
Following April's meeting, Michel said Aliyev and Pashinyan stated their desire to “move rapidly towards a peace agreement between their countries.”
“To this end, it was agreed to instruct the ministers of foreign affairs to work on the preparation of a future peace treaty which would address all necessary issues,” he said in a statement.
The parties also agreed to convene a Joint Border Commission by the end of April.
Relations between the two former Soviet countries have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally-recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
New clashes erupted in September 2020, and the 44-day conflict saw Azerbaijan liberate several cities and over 300 settlements and villages that were occupied by Armenia for almost 30 years.
A tripartite agreement was brokered by Russia to bring an end to the war in November 2020.