U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Tuesday called on the Armenian and Azerbaijani governments to summon up the political will to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. Rice said the long-running territorial dispute is holding back both countries. She made this statement after a meeting of the Turkish-American group in Washington on 15 April.
In comments reflecting U.S. frustration over the continued impasse, Rice says the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute is adversely affecting the interests of both Armenia and Azerbaijan and could be resolved quickly, with a little bit of political will by the two principals.
Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic-Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan, declared independence in 1988, triggering a conflict between the two countries that claimed some 35,000 lives.
Asked about the conflict in an appearance before the American-Turkish Council in Washington, Rice said Minsk Group diplomats have been close to getting an agreement on several occasions, and that it is time for the parties to make the hard choices needed to finally end the conflict:
"It needs to be done. I have made the case to both the Armenian government and the Azeri government that they are falling behind the rest of the region because they will not resolve this conflict between them. And frankly there is plenty of, if you wish to use the word, blame to go around on both sides. This could be done if there is political will, and it ought to. It ought to be done," he said.