U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday spoke separately with both Azerbaijani President Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan to discuss a durable and dignified peace between the two countries, TURAN's Washington correspondent reports.

In his first calls with Aliyev since the end of September, Blinken "expressed continued U.S. support for dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues," State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said.

"The Secretary welcomed President Aliyev’s commitment to conclude a durable and dignified peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia.  The Secretary recognized the suffering that this long-standing conflict has caused Azerbaijanis and Armenians alike and underscored the benefits that peace would bring to everyone in the region," Miller noted in a readout of the call.

The spokesperson went on to add that Blinken also discussed "our enduring relations with Azerbaijan, noted recent points of concern in the relationship and also spoke about opportunities to strengthen cooperation, especially around the peace process, and the importance of high-level engagement."

During his calls with Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan, Blinken expressed continued U.S. support for Armenia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

"They discussed U.S. support for efforts to reach a durable and dignified peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan.  The Secretary reaffirmed the United States’ ongoing support for Armenia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and outlined efforts to increase bilateral cooperation with Armenia as we work to support its vision for a prosperous and democratic future," Miller said in a separate readout.

Blinken's calls came as top State Department officials expressed their optimism over what they said was "a real opportunity" for Azerbaijan and Armenia to make peace.

"We’re encouraged that the two sides are speaking with one another directly and with mediators," James O'Brien, Assistant Secretary of State told TURAN's Washington correspondent during a media call Monday morning.

 

He refrained from speaking about current differences between Washington and Baku when asked by TURAN about his recent meeting with Azerbaijan's Ambassador to the U.S. Khazar Ibrahim.

 

O'Brien later on spoke about Armenia during a separate briefing organized by the State Department's Brussels Media Hub.

According to him, Prime Minister Pashinyan "has been very courageous, has made clear that he wants Armenia to move forward in opening its borders and in opening its relations with the West, that it doesn’t want Armenia to be wholly dependent on Russia in the way that previous leaders sought to have it be."

Pashinyan, he added, has also been "a bold voice" for a peace agreement with Azerbaijan as a way of allowing Armenia to focus on its economic development, to build out its security relationships, and to expand trade from Central Asia through to Türkiye, and all of which is "something we would very much like to see"

"We are committed to working with our European partners and with the government in Armenia to see that the people of Armenia are able to benefit from the reform policies that the Pashinyan government has undertaken," O'Brien concluded.

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