Blinken voices concerns about border checkpoint on Lachin Corridor
The United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday has expressed his dissatisfaction with the creation of a border checkpoint on the Lachin Corridor during a phone call with the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev. Blinken reiterated the need for direct dialogue and diplomacy between Azerbaijan and Armenia to achieve a permanent solution to the ongoing conflict.
According to a statement issued by the US State Department spokesperson, Matthew Miller, Blinken had separately spoken with President Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to stress the importance of peace negotiations between the two countries. Miller further added that Blinken had emphasized the need for the Lachin Corridor to be opened up for commercial and private vehicle traffic as soon as possible.
Last weekend, the Azerbaijani government established a border checkpoint on the Lachin Corridor, the only connection between the Karabakh region and Armenia.
The move has been met with condemnation from the Armenian government, who consider it a violation of the ceasefire agreement reached earlier this year. Azerbaijan claims that the checkpoint was necessary to prevent illegal activities, including arms smuggling and mining, by Armenian "bandits" on Azerbaijani territory.
During his call with President Aliyev, Blinken expressed the deep concerns of the United States regarding the checkpoint and the potential harm it could cause to the peace process. He also reaffirmed the US government's commitment to support the peace process between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
It is worth noting that Blinken had also spoken with Prime Minister Pashinyan the day before his call with President Aliyev. Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of blocking the Lachin Corridor, leading to a humanitarian crisis in the region. The lack of food and medicine, as well as frequent power cuts, have severely affected the Armenian population living in the area.
The conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Karabakh region has been ongoing since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The war in 2020 claimed the lives of more than 6,500 people, and Armenia was forced to withdraw from a large part of the region following the ceasefire agreement. However, sporadic clashes and acts of violence continue to occur between the two countries' military forces and civilians in the region.