U.S. First Deputy Secretary of State: U.S. interested in rapid settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict (UPDATE-1)

U.S. First Deputy Secretary of State: U.S. interested in rapid settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict (UPDATE-1)

Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 24 / Trend V. Zhavoronkova /

Steinberg's words were added (the first version was posted at 17:01)

The U.S. is interested in rapid settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis of the international law and the Helsinki principles, U.S. First Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg said upon arrival in Baku.

"We hope for certain progress in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We think that both countries are interested in promoting this issue," Steinberg said.

"I plan to learn the opinion of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev how we can move this process forward by common efforts," he said.

He said that it is very important to maintain a diplomatic solution to the conflict, as it is in the interests of all countries in the region.

"We want to make a contribution to advancing this process forward," he said.

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 United States - 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.

"We are puzzled by the difficulties we have recently faced, given the potential benefit of both sides of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in case of a peaceful settlement and risks of the conflict escalation," he said.

It is in our interests to do everything we can. It was highlighted at a meeting with Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan.

The parties must meet in a positive atmosphere to find common ground. It is in the interests of all parties of the conflict, he said.

There must be no doubts that the parties will continue making efforts in this direction, he said
Steinberg left Tbilisi and arrived in Baku. Earlier, he was in Yerevan.

Steinberg is accompanied by Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon during his regional tour.

U.S. senior officials visited Azerbaijan last summer. Then-Pentagon Chief Robert Gates and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Baku.

In December 2010, after an 18 -month absence of a U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Matthew Bryza to the post.

According to the U.S. Constitution, the candidates nominated by the president must be approved by the Senate. However, as Congress is between sessions, the president may make appointments independently.

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