Pashinyan, Aliyev meet for first time since October

Pashinyan, Aliyev meet for first time since October
A+ A-
The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan met for the first time since October for trilateral talks with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Munich Security Conference.

Armenia and Azerbaijan held talks with the United States in Munich on Saturday, the first meeting between the leaders of the South Caucasus nations since October amid heightened tensions over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

"The meeting made a reference to progress in work on the draft peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as the unblocking of regional transport infrastructure and the implementation of delimitation between the two countries in accordance with the agreement reached in Prague," the Armenian prime minister's office said in a statement.

During the meeting, Pashinyan also reaffirmed the determination of the Armenian side to achieve a treaty that will truly guarantee long-term peace and stability in the region AND emphasized the fact of Azerbaijan's illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor and the resulting humanitarian, environmental and energy crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh, the statement said.

"I think Azerbaijan and Armenia need to demonstrate that the transition from long-lasting standoff, mutual hatred and hostility must end," Aliyev said on a panel discussion.

"I think (the peace agreement) could be a good example of how countries which had serious, historical disagreements can get together and turn the page of hostility," he said.

Russian news agencies reported that Aliyev said Baku had proposed creating checkpoints on the border with Armenia.

Tensions between the two countries of the South Caucasus have escalated over a two-month blockade of the Lachin Corridor. This corridor is the only land route that gives Armenia direct access to the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which has been the bone of contention between the two states since 1917.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but its 120,000 inhabitants are mostly ethnic Armenians, and it broke away from Baku in an initial war in the early 1990s. Since Dec. 12, Azerbaijani civilians posing as environmental activists and Russian peacekeepers have faced off on the Lachin corridor. Saturday's meeting was the first face-to-face between the two leaders since late October, when Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted talks in the Black Sea city of Sochi. A Dec. 7 meeting in Brussels was canceled.

Blinken said he welcomed the meeting between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev. The politicians are attending the three-day Munich Security Conference.

"The United States is committed to doing anything we can to support these efforts, whether it's directly with our friends or whether it's in a trilateral format such as this or with other international partners, but I'm very grateful for the presence of both the President and the Prime Minister today and look forward to a good conversation," Blinken said.