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Pompeo calls on Armenia, Azerbaijan to respect cease-fire

Pompeo calls on Armenia, Azerbaijan to respect cease-fire
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Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo says Mideast strategy will be Trump administration policy 'until our time is complete' Trump administration pulls out of Open Skies treaty with Russia Tibetan political leader makes visit to White House for first time in six decades MORE spoke separately with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, the State Department said on Tuesday, and urged them to respect the U.S.-negotiated cease-fire that fell apart minutes after its implementation. 

State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said that Pompeo spoke with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and urged both sides to respect the commitments to cease hostilities and stressed that “there is no military solution to this conflict.” 

Pompeo, along with other senior Trump administration officials, over the weekend held intensive discussions in Washington with the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in an effort to reinforce two previously negotiated cease-fires, which took place in Moscow and in Paris this month, to halt the fighting over the contested territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. 

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The U.S.-negotiated cease-fire was expected to take place at 8 a.m. on Monday in that territory, but within minutes Azerbaijan accused Armenia of launching artillery attacks on the Azeri city of Tartar and nearby villages.  

Armenia’s foreign ministry said that claims by Azerbaijan that Armenia had violated the cease-fire “do not correspond to reality and are obviously provocative.” 

Aliyev has vowed to “liberate” the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh from the “occupiers” and claimed control of dozens of villages in the region. 

Armenia and Azerbaijan are locked in a nearly monthlong war over Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region within Azerbaijan that is controlled by ethnic-Armenians, who refer to the area as Artsakh and who are backed by Armenia. 

The fighting has resulted in nearly 1,000 reported military casualties on the side of Armenia and dozens of civilians killed and hundreds wounded on both sides. Azerbaijan does not publicize its military casualties. 

The final status of the territory has been part of a stalled negotiation process for 30 years under the auspices of the Minsk Group, co-chaired by the U.S., France and Russia. Pompeo said that both sides agreed to return to negotiations on a political settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh in Geneva on Thursday following the weekend meetings in Washington.