US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo expressed hope that the Armenians will be able to defend themselves against Azerbaijan’s attacks in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, demonstrating for the first time a preferential attitude towards one of the parties to the conflict.
He also condemned Turkey for its alleged participation in the conflict on the side of Azerbaijan, which Ankara has repeatedly denied.
“We hope that Armenians can protect themselves from what Azerbaijanis are doing,” Pompeo said in an interview with WSB radio station in Atlanta, Georgia.
At the same time, the secretary of state called on both sides to enter into peace negotiations to resolve the long-standing territorial dispute.
According to him, the United States hopes that the warring parties “will establish a ceasefire, and then sit down and try to sort out this issue, which is a set of truly historical and complex problems.”
“The settlement of this conflict should be carried out through negotiations and peaceful discussions, and not through armed conflict and, of course, not with the participation of third countries that offer firepower in a situation that already resembles a powder keg,” Pompeo said.
The Secretary of State named one particular country that, in his opinion, plays a negative role in the region.
“Now Turkey has stepped in and provided resources to Azerbaijan, increasing the risk by increasing firepower in this historic battle for a place called Nagorno-Karabakh – a small area of about 150,000 people,” he said. – This is dangerous”.
The United States, along with Russia and France, is the co-chair of the so-called Minsk Group, which is responsible for diplomacy over Nagorno-Karabakh.
The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan last weekend agreed to a ceasefire on humanitarian grounds, but both sides accused each other of violating the agreement just hours after it was supposed to enter into force.
Azerbaijani troops advanced north and south of the front line, taking up positions in Karabakh and two regions of Azerbaijan that had been under Armenian control since 1994.