U.S. appreciates Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's personal efforts to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley told reporters on Thursday.
Astrakhan hosted the trilateral meeting of the presidents of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia - Ilham Aliyev, Dmitry Medvedev and Serzh Sargsyan on Oct.27. The parties have signed a declaration, which envisages the return of prisoners of war and takes a humanitarian nature, Medvedev said on Wednesday after the trilateral meeting.
"We welcome the October 27 joint statement by Presidents Medvedev, Sargsian and Aliyev in which Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to the exchange of prisoners of war and the return of bodies with the assistance of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs and the International Committee of the Red Cross. We appreciate President Medvedev's personal efforts to reach this agreement, which aims to build confidence between the parties and to strengthen the 1994 ceasefire", Crowleyhe said.
According to him, this joint statement represents a positive development in the ongoing OSCE Minsk Group process to reach a peaceful resolution to the conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh and U.S. looks forward to seeing its implementation as soon as possible.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 surrounding districts.
Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France, and the U.S. - are currently holding the peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.