Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meet in Munich, February 18, 2023

Aliyev, Pashinyan Hold US-Mediated Talks

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MUNICH (RFE/RL) — The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan met in Munich on Saturday, February 18, for talks organized by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“We believe that Armenia and Azerbaijan have a genuinely historic opportunity to secure enduring peace after more than 30 years of conflict,” Blinken said at the start of his trilateral meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

“The parties themselves have renewed their focus on the peace process, including through direct conversation as well as with the EU and ourselves,” he said. “The United States is committed to doing anything we can to support these efforts, whether it’s directly with our friends, whether it’s in a trilateral format such as this or with other international partners.”

Neither Blinken nor the conflicting sides announced any concrete agreements after the talks held on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

An Armenian government statement said that the three men discussed ongoing negotiations on an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty as well as transport links between the two South Caucasus states and a demarcation of their border.

“Prime Minister Pashinyan reaffirmed the Armenian side’s determination to achieve the signing of a treaty that will truly guarantee long-term peace and stability in the region,” added the statement.

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He said Pashinyan also “stressed the fact” of Azerbaijan’s two-month blockade of the sole road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. It did not say whether he made further progress in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks conditional on the lifting of the blockade.

Aliyev told Azerbaijani television that the summit was “constructive.” He spoke of “progress” in Armenia’s position on the peace treaty sought by Baku.

Aliyev again defended Azerbaijani government-backed protesters blocking the Lachin corridor to Karabakh on ostensibly environmental grounds. He reportedly said that Azerbaijan should be able to set up a permanent checkpoint in the corridor.

The Russian-brokered agreement that stopped the 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani war placed Karabakh’s land link with Armenia under the control of Russian peacekeepers. It also committed Baku to guarantee safe passage through it. Yerevan has repeatedly condemned the blockade as a gross violation of these provisions.

Pashinyan’s previous meeting with Aliyev was hosted by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in the Russian city of Sochi in late October. The Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders were due to meet again in Brussels in early December. Aliyev canceled that meeting, objecting to French President Emmanuel Macron’s participation in it.

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