Blinken calls for immediate opening of corridor in Nagorno-Karabakh

Blinken calls for immediate opening of corridor in Nagorno-Karabakh
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged immediate humanitarian corridor access and peaceful dialogue amid escalating tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh, emphasizing the importance of mutual respect between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The United States is deeply concerned about the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Sunday.

“We note that humanitarian supplies are positioned near both the Lachin and Aghdam routes, and we repeat our call for the immediate and simultaneous opening of both corridors to allow passage of desperately needed humanitarian supplies to the men, women, and children in Nagorno-Karabakh. We also urge leaders against taking any actions that raise tensions or distract from this goal. The use of force to resolve disputes is unacceptable,” the Secretary said.

Karabakh is recognised globally as part of Azerbaijan, but has been controlled by its population of around 120,000 ethnic Armenians since a war that coincided with the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Azerbaijan recaptured large swathes of territory in a second major war in 2020, and for the past nine months has exerted new pressure on the region by restricting its access to Armenia through the Lachin corridor. The road has been cut off apart for urgent medical cases, leading to shortages of basic supplies, including bread.

Azerbaijan had previously accused Armenia of using the corridor to smuggle weapons, and of rejecting an offer to reopen the road simultaneously with another route into Karabakh.

“In light of the recent increase in tensions in the South Caucasus, the United States will continue to strongly support efforts by Armenia and Azerbaijan to resolve outstanding issues through direct dialogue, with the aim of achieving a dignified and enduring peace. We reiterate that any peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan must protect the rights and security of the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh. We also encourage dialogue between Baku and residents of Nagorno-Karabakh,” Blinken stated.

“The United States further reaffirms the only way forward is peace, dialogue, and the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan on the basis of mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he concluded.