U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia to seek progress in talks over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region as negotiations resume today in Vienna after a three-year hiatus.
“We are urging that process to move forward, and we will continue to be engaged in that,” Kerry said yesterday in a joint briefing in Washington with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Kerry said he’d spoken by phone with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan during the last three days.
Armenians took over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous enclave about the size of Rhode Island, and seven adjacent districts from Azerbaijan in a war after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991. More than 30,000 people were killed and over a million displaced before Russia brokered a cease-fire in 1994.
Azerbaijan, buoyed by more than $40 billion of energy investments by BP Plc (BP/) and partners, has increased military spending almost 30-fold to $3.7 billion in the last decade. Aliyev has repeatedly threatened to use force to regain control of the territory should peace talks mediated by the U.S., Russia and France fail.
Russia hopes the resumption of talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia will assist in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters yesterday after meeting his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian.
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