U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo meets Armenia, Azerbaijan Foreign Ministers

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo began talks on Friday with his counterparts from Armenia and Azerbaijan in a new international bid to halt an eruption of fighting, AFP reports.

At the State Department, Pompeo met separately with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan.

The foreign ministries on both sides have ruled out a three-way meeting in Washington.

Ahead of the talks, Pompeo kept expectations in check, noting that previous ceasefire bids have not held.

“Our view remains, as does the view of nearly every European country, that the right path forward is to cease the conflict, tell them to de-escalate, that every country should stay out, provide no fuel for this conflict, no weapons systems, no support,” he said.

“It is at that point that a diplomatic solution that would be acceptable to all can potentially be achieved.”

Russia has been in the forefront of diplomacy in Nagorno-Karabakh, twice attempting to broker a humanitarian ceasefire.

Yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the death toll was nearing 5,000 in the worst flare-up in the conflict between the former Soviet republics in more than two decades.

The United States has officially voiced neutrality and is a co-chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Minsk group with Russia and France. The group is tasked with spearheading negotiations between the sides.

The United States has a large and politically active Armenian diaspora but also strategic ties with Azerbaijan, a rare Muslim-majority nation to have strong relations with Israel.

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