US offers help to link Armenia, Azerbaijan

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday offered US assistance in building ties between Armenia and Azerbaijan, encouraging a permanent settlement between the adversaries two years after a Russian-brokered truce.

In separate calls with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Blinken said that the two nations have a "historic opportunity to achieve peace in the region."

Blinken "offered the United States' assistance in facilitating regional transportation and communication linkages," State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

Aliyev and Pashinyan met under EU mediation in May to discuss a future peace treaty. Their foreign ministers followed up with talks this month in neighboring Georgia.

Russia in 2020 brokered a truce that ended a six-week war that claimed more than 6,500 lives. Russia deployed some 2,000 peacekeepers, with Armenia agreeing to cede swathes of territory it had controlled for decades.

The United States, Russia and France -- which all have strong Armenian diasporas -- formed the so-called Minsk group that sought to broker a resolution amid the first war in the 1990s over Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian-populated region internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.

The United States has drastically scaled back contact with Russia since its invasion of Ukraine in February, although Washington has maintained indirect contact with Moscow on some international issues such as Iran.

Price said the United States was ready to engage with "likeminded partners" to support peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

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