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State urges immediate ceasefire in clash between Azerbaijan and Armenia

State urges immediate ceasefire in clash between Azerbaijan and Armenia
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Deputy Secretary of State Steve Biegun on Monday spoke separately with the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia and urged an immediate cease-fire and return to negotiations amid escalating fighting between the two sides that erupted over the contested area of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Biegun expressed “deep concern over reports of the escalation of military action and expanding theater of operations” in over a week of fighting between the two sides, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. 

“The Deputy Secretary stressed to the Foreign Ministers that there is no military solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” Ortagus said.

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The deputy secretary urged both sides to return to negotiations under the Minsk Group, a mediating effort co-chaired by the United States, Russia and France and part of the Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe.

The deputy secretary’s remarks are part of efforts by the Minsk Group calling for an "immediate and unconditional ceasefire" and return to negotiations, an effort that has persisted for more than a quarter of a century yet has failed to come to a meaningful solution between the conflict between the two sides.

The contested area of Nagorno-Karabakh is a majority-Armenian enclave that falls within sovereign Azerbaijan, a territory that broke away with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the establishment of the independent states of Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Fighting broke out last week between Azeri forces stationed on the border of Nagorno-Karabakh and its defense forces, called the Artsakh Defence Army and which is deeply connected with Armenian forces. 

The international community has condemned the escalation of fighting, which has moved beyond the borders of the contested area into both Armenia and Azerbaijan proper. It has also raised fears of a wider regional conflict, with Turkey expressing solidarity with Azerbaijan and Armenia accusing Ankara of sending F-16s for air strikes and foreign fighters to Baku. 

Both Turkey and Azerbaijan have denied that Ankara has sent fighters to the front line. 

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoUS Olympic Committee urges Congress not to boycott Games in China Pompeo on CIA recruitment: We can't risk national security to appease 'liberal, woke agenda' DNC gathers opposition research on over 20 potential GOP presidential candidates MORE had earlier issued a statement warning against participation of “external parties” in the conflict. 

House lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan resolution condemning Azerbaijan and Turkey for the latest round of fighting.