[lg policy] Clinton Urges Azerbaijan and Armenia to End Dispute
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Mon Jul 5 15:28:08 UTC 2010
July 4, 2010
Clinton Urges Azerbaijan and Armenia to End Dispute
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
appealed to Armenia and Azerbaijan on Sunday to peacefully settle
their long-running territorial dispute, but there were no outward
signs of diplomatic progress. The dispute between the two former
Soviet states risks escalating to warfare and has caused diplomatic
problems beyond their borders. Shuttling between their capitals, she
told leaders to act quickly to settle the matter. “The final steps
toward peace often are the most difficult, but we believe peace is
possible,” Mrs. Clinton said at news conference in Baku, Azerbaijan,
with her counterpart in that nation, Elmar Mammadyarov.
She soon made the one-hour flight to Armenia and drove to the
presidential palace in Yerevan for a meeting and dinner with President
Serge Sarkisian, who said the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, an
enclave in Azerbaijan that has been under the control of Armenian
troops and ethnic Armenian forces since a 1994 cease-fire, was the
single most important issue for his country.
The truce ended six years of war that killed about 30,000 and
displaced an estimated 1 million. Mr. Sarkisian’s words were almost
identical to those made in a statement hours earlier by President
Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan, which shares a border with
Iran, is of particular strategic importance to the United States. Tens
of thousands of flights carrying war supplies to United States and
allied forces in Afghanistan have crossed Azerbaijan’s airspace over
the past nine years of fighting there since the Sept. 11 attacks.
Azerbaijan also is part of an overland supply chain that is a critical
alternative to the main land route through Pakistan to Afghanistan.
The United States also has good relations with Armenia, and has worked
to broker an agreement between Armenia and Turkey on establishing
formal diplomatic relations and opening their sealed border after a
century of enmity. Turkey, however, has refused to ratify the
agreement until Armenia removes its military forces of
Turks have close cultural and linguistic ties to Azerbaijan. At an
evening news conference in Yerevan, Mrs. Clinton implicitly criticized
Azerbaijan for a recent outbreak of violence. In mid-June, an exchange
of gunfire along the front lines near Nagorno-Karabakh killed four
ethnic Armenian troops and one Azerbaijani soldier.
The secretary of state urged Turkey to move ahead with the agreement
to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia and said Armenia has
done its part by stating its willingness to go forward with
ratification of the agreement once Turkey drops its insistence that
Armenia and Azerbaijan first settle their differences.
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