US pledges ‘deep engagement’ in region as Blinken appoints new Caucasus envoy

By Mark Dovich

State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel pledged Wednesday that the United States is “going to continue to remain deeply engaged” in efforts to resolve the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken appointed a new envoy to the region.

In a statement, Blinken announced he was appointing senior foreign service officer Louis Bono as Washington’s new senior advisor for Caucasus negotiations. Bono previously served at U.S. diplomatic missions to the United Nations and Holy See, among other positions.

He replaces Philip Reeker, who retired last month after less than half a year in the role.

Speaking to reporters, Patel confirmed that Bono will also serve as Washington’s new envoy to the OSCE Minsk Group, a body that has led efforts to mediate a peaceful resolution to the Karabakh conflict for decades, largely without result.

The group, which is co-chaired by France, Russia, and the United States, has been effectively frozen since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.

Patel underlined that facilitating a peaceful resolution to the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict “is something that is of deep importance to the secretary” and “an enduring priority for the Biden administration.”

Bono’s appointment comes amid an ongoing U.S. diplomatic reshuffle in the region.

Last week, career diplomat Kristina Kvien was formally sworn in as the new U.S. ambassador to Armenia. She previously served in senior roles at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, including during the buildup to Russia’s invasion early last year.

Kvien replaced Lynne Tracy, who has been appointed as Washington’s new top diplomat in Moscow, the first woman to hold that position.