’We urge both sides to take immediate concrete steps to reduce tensions, avoid further escalation,’ says US Secretary of State.
ANKARA (AA) – The US voiced concern Tuesday over the increased tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“The United States is deeply concerned about reports of intensive fighting today between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We urge both sides to take immediate concrete steps to reduce tensions and avoid further escalation,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement.
“We also call on the sides to engage directly and constructively to resolve all outstanding issues, including border demarcation,” he added.
“As noted in the Minsk Group Co-Chairs’ statement on November 15, the recent increase in tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan underscores the need for a negotiated, comprehensive, and sustainable settlement of all remaining issues related to or resulting from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” statement said.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said Tuesday in a statement that Armenian forces have carried out “large-scale provocations” against the combat posts of the Azerbaijani army in the Kalbajar and Lachin regions of the state border, while two Azerbaijani soldiers were wounded in the attacks.
The Azerbaijani army immediately carried out an emergency operation, the statement said, adding the movement of the Armenian forces was blocked and its forces and means were damaged.
Azerbaijan and Armenia took steps to stabilize the situation on their borders, said a statement by the Russian Defense Ministry later in the day.
It said the clashes in Karakilise have ceased and the situation is currently back to normal and under control.
“As of 5.30 p.m. (1330GMT), with the mediation of Russia, a cease-fire was declared on the Azerbaijan-Armenia border,” the Armenian Defense Ministry said.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the tensions on the Azerbaijan-Armenia border with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
Putin and Pashinyan agreed to stay in contact, the Kremlin said in a statement.
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
During a 44-day conflict that started in late September last year, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and 300 settlements and villages that were illegally occupied by Armenia for almost 30 years.