Armenia should return Azerbaijani prisoners, US assistant secretary says (UPDATE)
Details added (first version posted on 13:14)
Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 17
By Aygun Badalova - Trend:
Azerbaijani prisoners, held by Armenia, should be returned, the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland said at a press conference in Baku on Feb. 17.
She said this should be done as a humanitarian gesture.
"I will make that point as well in Yerevan tomorrow," Nuland added.
On July 11, 2014, during an operation in the Shaplar village of Azerbaijan's occupied Kalbajar district, the Armenian forces killed an Azerbaijani, Hasan Hasanov, and detained two other Azerbaijanis, Shahbaz Guliyev and Dilgam Asgarov. A criminal case was filed against them. Earlier, the so-called court in Nagorno-Karabakh sentenced Asgarov to life imprisonment and Guliyev to 22 years in prison.
Nuland also voiced the US concern over the escalation of violence on the line of contact between the Armenian and Azerbaijani troops recently.
"We want to see the violence end. We want the parties to come back to the table [of negotiations]. We want to support that process," she added.
The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, France and the US are currently holding peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the UN Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.
Aygun Badalova is Trend Agency's staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AygunBadalova