A powerful American political figure has condemned what she said were “illegal” border attacks by Azerbaijan on Armenia, using a visit to Russia’s military ally to pledge US support.
Speaking in the capital Yerevan on Sunday, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said her trip had particular importance following the “illegal and deadly attacks by Azerbaijan on Armenian territory” that led to border clashes in which more than 200 people were killed.
Pelosi said it was clear the border fighting was triggered by Azeri assaults on Armenia and the chronology of the conflict should be clarified.
“We strongly condemn those attacks,” Pelosi said. “This was initiated by the Azeris and there has to be recognition of that.”
The United States, Pelosi said, was listening to Armenia about what its defence needs were and said Washington wanted to support the country in what she cast as “a global struggle between democracy and autocracy”.
Azerbaijan on Sunday scolded Pelosi for saying that Baku had started a border conflict with Armenia, saying the “unsubstantiated and unfair” remarks were a serious blow to peace efforts.
“The unsubstantiated and unfair accusations levelled by Pelosi against Azerbaijan are unacceptable,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. “Pelosi is known as a pro-Armenian politician.”
“This is a serious blow to the efforts to normalise relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev in a call on Sunday to keep to a ceasefire agreed with Armenia after violence.
“He (Blinken) urged President Aliyev to adhere to the ceasefire, disengage military forces, and work to resolve all outstanding issues between Armenia and Azerbaijan through peaceful negotiations,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement following a call between the two officials.