By Vafa Ismayilova
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and visiting U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker have discussed bilateral strategic partnership and regional challenges, including the Armenian-Azerbaijani border tensions, the Foreign Ministry reported on June 9.
At a meeting held in Baku on June 9, Bayramov stressed the strategic nature of partnership relations between Azerbaijan and the United States and noted the positive impact of mutual visits to the development of these relations.
Bayramov informed Reeker about the post-conflict regional situation, the lack of Azerbaijan's interest in aggravating the situation, and steps taken by Azerbaijan to fulfill the trilateral statement signed by Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia in November 2020. He also spoke about Armenia's irresponsible behavior and its refusal to share information on mine maps and sending saboteurs to plant mines on the Azerbaijani territory.
U.S. official Philip Reeker noted that Azerbaijan is a strong partner country and stressed that the United States attaches great importance to bilateral relations.
He recalled with satisfaction his telephone conversation with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. Reeker expressed U.S. regional interests and desire to be helpful in addressing the existing challenges in the region.
The U.S. official praised the agreement reached between Azerbaijan and Armenia on the cessation of hostilities and expressed concern over the recent developments in the region, including the tensions at the border.
He also expressed regret over the recent death of two journalists and an official as a result of a landmine explosion. Reeker stressed the U.S. desire to help resolve existing tensions and referred to the efforts as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group.
The sides also discussed various aspects of the bilateral cooperation agenda, as well as cooperation in the fields of energy and security. Other issues of mutual interest were also discussed at the meeting.
Reeker earlier called on Baku and Yerevan to resolve border tensions peacefully.
"We must all be concerned that the situation may worsen. We call on the two sides to resolve this issue peacefully and as soon as possible. We call on the parties to return to the substantive negotiations under the chairmanship of the OSCE Minsk Group," the US official said.
Reeker stated that the U.S. is ready to render technical assistance to demarcate the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
"The demarcation of the border is very important. It will benefit everyone. Political will is required to launch this process," he said.
Since 1997, the U.S. has been acting as one of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs along with Russia and France to promote a peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict through negotiation and mediation. The OSCE Minsk Group was instituted in 1992 and activated in 1994.
On January 27, 2021, U.S. Ambassador Earle Litzenberger congratulated Azerbaijan on the restoration of its territorial integrity and expressed the U.S. readiness to participate in the restoration of the lands liberated from Armenia's occupation.
A Moscow-brokered ceasefire deal that Baku and Yerevan signed on November 10 brought an end to six weeks of fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani army declared a victory against the Armenian troops. The signed agreement obliged Armenia to withdraw its troops from the Azerbaijani lands that it has occupied since the early 1990s.
On January 11, the Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian leaders signed the second statement since the end of the 44-day war. The newly-signed statement is set to implement clause 9 of the November 2020 statement related to the unblocking of all economic and transport communications in the region.
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