Armenia’s Nancy Pelosi condemns ‘illegal’ attack in Azerbaijan

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on a visit to Armenia this weekend accused Azerbaijan of carrying out “illegal and deadly” attacks that led to border clashes, saying “we strongly condemn these attacks.”

Pelosi traveled with a congressional delegation to Armenia, where a fragile ceasefire has temporarily halted border fighting with neighboring Azerbaijan that has killed more than 200 soldiers in recent days. On Sunday, the delegation met Armenian Prime Minister Nicole Pashinyan in the Armenian capital Yelawan, whom Pelosi called “an important partner in advancing security, prosperity and democracy in the Caucasus.”

Pelosi said the trip was planned before deadly clashes erupted on Sept. 9. A decades-long conflict erupted on December 12 near the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, near the Azerbaijan-Armenian border, as Azerbaijan may have been trying to exploit Russia’s preoccupation with the invasion of Ukraine. Armenia is a close ally of Russia, while Azerbaijan is allied with Turkey.

Military officials in Azerbaijan acknowledged the attack but accused Armenia of a “massive provocation” by laying mines near border facilities and shelling Azerbaijani positions early on Monday. Armenia called the allegations “absolute lies” and accused Baku of renewing hostilities.

Learn about the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Pelosi told a joint news conference with Armenian National Assembly President Alen Simonyan on Sunday that the attack was clearly initiated by Azerbaijan and must be stopped, and that the United States should use its influence and influence to show support for Armenia.

“The immediate U.S. response was to stop the violence and stop the fire,” Pelosi said. “Our delegation was very vocal in saying that this was initiated by the Azerbaijanis, and it has to be acknowledged and how to stop.”

Pelosi said President Biden was a staunch supporter of Armenia and vowed that the two countries would “jointly explore possible next steps” in response to the outbreak of violence.

“Democracy in Armenia is the value of the world, the joy of the world,” Pelosi said. “However, we have to expand the question… What does Armenia’s security mean for regional and global security? Armenia’s democracy is important for What does it mean to end the ongoing struggle between democracy and authoritarianism in the world? In both cases, it means a lot.”

Pelosi’s office said she was the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Armenia since the country gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

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Other members of the U.S. delegation include members of the House of Representatives. Frank Pallone Jr., (D-N.J.) Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Jackie Speer (D.-Calif.) of Armenian descent and Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) of Armenian-Assyrian descent.

The period leading up to the visit was marked by intense fighting, the largest outbreak of hostilities since total war in 2020, in which Azerbaijan recaptured territory Armenia had held for decades. The six-week war ended with a military victory in Azerbaijan and a fragile Moscow-backed truce in which Armenia handed over swathes of its territory.

The South Caucasus has long been a source of U.S. diplomatic sensitivity. But after lobbying by lawmakers and Armenian-Americans, Biden last year formally recognized the Ottoman slaughter of Armenians in the early 20th century as genocide, a term the U.S. has long avoided for fear of damaging its relationship with Turkey. Relations. Historians estimate that 1.5 million Armenians were killed in a forced march and massacre during World War I.

Pelosi cited the deaths in the context of the ongoing war in Ukraine. “Never forget that this is the moral responsibility of all: an obligation that has become more urgent with atrocities around the world, including Russia’s atrocities against Ukraine,” Pelosi said in a statement ahead of the visit.

Mary Ilyushina contributed to this report.

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