U.S urges Azerbaijan to immediately reopen key corridor to Nagorno-Karabakh
The US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Monday urged Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev in a phone call to reopen the Lachin corridor immediately to commercial traffic, a statement by the US State Department said on Monday.
The statement said that “He (Blinken) underscored that the risk of a humanitarian crisis in the Lachin corridor undermined prospects for peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” adding that the secretary asked President Aliyev to redouble efforts in bilateral peace discussions with Armenia.
Blinken also raised human rights concerns in Azerbaijan when he spoke to Aliyev, the State Department added.
Blinken's talks with Aliyev followed the secretary of state's call with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Wednesday, when they discussed steps to restart bilateral talks with Azerbaijan.
Tensions have spiraled between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the blockade of the only road giving direct access to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region from Armenia in recent weeks.
Last week, Russia also told Azerbaijan that the key road leading into the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh must be quickly cleared of protesters, but Baku remained unmoved.
The European Parliament on Thursday also adopted a resolution saying the humanitarian crisis caused by the blockade has been further aggravated by Azerbaijan’s disruption of the natural gas supply to the region, in breach of international obligations.
Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but home to a mainly Armenian population. The issue is becoming a major irritant for Russia, which wants to maintain good relations with both Azerbaijan and Armenia, two small former Soviet states in the Caucasus region.
Azerbaijanis who say they are environmental activists have blockaded the road for weeks in what they say is a dispute over illegal Armenian mining. Yerevan says they are government-backed agitators.
The blockage halted the movement of people and goods in or out of the enclave, including food, fuel, and medical supplies, resulting in shortages of the products.