Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec.18
By Elena Kosolapova - Trend:
The US hopes the upcoming meeting between Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents scheduled for December will bring the sides closer to the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the US State Department told Azernews newspaper.
"We hope the sides will address the need to reduce tensions and continue discussions on elements of a settlement," said the message. "We also hope the sides will reaffirm their commitment to reaching a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the conflict within the Minsk Group format, and agree to intensify their dialogue in 2016."
It was also noted that the recent escalation of violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia and the use of heavy weapons are unacceptable.
"We call for the sides to strictly adhere to the ceasefire regime," said the message of the department.
The message also said that the US supports proposals to reduce the risk of violence along the line of contact and the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and the US Minsk Group co-chair James Warlick, together with his Russian and French counterparts, continues to discuss these measures with the sides.
"Another way to reduce tensions is to increase people-to-people contacts, especially among the communities of Nagorno-Karabakh," said the State Department. "Armenians and Azerbaijanis lived side-by-side for generations, for peace to come, they will need to trust each other once again."
The State Department said that ultimately, the responsibility for peace falls on the shoulders of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
"They must take the brave step of preparing their countries for a peaceful settlement of this longstanding conflict. We hope the upcoming summit will bring the sides closer to a resolution and galvanize the peace process."
As a Minsk Group co-chair, the United States remains fully committed to working with the sides on mediating a settlement, but the decision to usher in a new era of peace lies with the sides, said the message.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries 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.
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