US envoy Louis Bono (left) at a meeting with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Yerevan, March 7, 2023.

US Envoy Again Visits Armenia, Azerbaijan

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YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — A US special envoy for Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations again visited Armenia and Azerbaijan for further discussions on a planned peace agreement between the two nations.

The diplomat, Louis Bono, met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and Armen Grigoryan, the secretary of Armenia’s Security Council, on Friday, May 26.

Pashinyan’s office said he presented “the Armenian side’s approaches to resolving the key outstanding issues.” It did not elaborate.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry reported, for its part, that Mirzoyan and Bono reviewed the Armenia-Azerbaijan “normalization process” and the remaining differences between the parties. It cited Mirzoyan as stressing the importance of non-use of force, “border security” and an “internationally guaranteed mechanism for dialogue” between Baku and Nagorno-Karabakh’s leadership.

Bono had met with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov in Baku on May 24. According to an Azerbaijani readout of the meeting, they discussed the draft peace deal and the results of recent Armenian-Azerbaijani talks organized by the United States and the European Union.

“As we’ve said, we believe that an agreement is in reach, and we continue to press the two parties to work together to reach an agreement on the issues that remain outstanding,” the US State Department spokesman, Matthew Miller, told reporters on Thursday.

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Dereck Hogan, a US deputy assistant secretary of state, revealed earlier this week that Washington “put forward a number of ideas” designed to help the two sides overcome those sticking points. He said they relate to the delimitation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, “the distancing of Armenian and Azerbaijani forces” deployed along the frontier, and “the rights and security of ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.”

During the recent talks, the sides made major progress towards the bilateral treaty that would commit them to recognizing each other’s territorial integrity. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan confirmed on Monday that Yerevan would thus recognize Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh. Another senior US official hailed Pashinyan’s statement condemned by the Armenian opposition and Karabakh’s leadership.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted fresh talks between Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Moscow on Thursday. The two leaders were scheduled to meet again in Moldova’s capital Chisinau on June 1 (after Mirror-Spectator press time). They will be joined by EU chief Charles Michel, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The Reuters news agency on Friday quoted Azerbaijan’s ambassador to France as saying that the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty could be signed during the Chisinau summit. The Foreign Ministry in Yerevan essentially denied this, however, saying that the signing of the landmark document is “not included on the agenda” of the summit.

“As we have noted many times, the Armenian side will be ready to sign the agreement when the key issues are addressed,” the ministry said in written comments to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “We believe that discussions on them will continue during and after the meeting scheduled within the framework of the European Political Community [summit] in Chisinau on June 1.”

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