Pompeo urges diplomatic solution to fighting in Armenia, Azerbaijan

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to reach a diplomatic solution to the conflict between the two nations, as both sides continued to battle despite a US-brokered cease-fire.

The truce, which took effect Monday, collapsed as forces clashed along the front line in Nagorno-Karabakh and both countries accused the other of violations.

Two other cease-fires agreed upon this month also quickly broke down.

Pompeo, traveling in India, spoke to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian separately on Tuesday and pressed them to “abide by their commitments to cease hostilities and pursue a diplomatic solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” the State Department said, adding that “there is no military solution to this conflict.”

The United Nations also condemned the escalating territorial dispute.

“We continue to express our concern and frankly our frustration at the reports of continued fighting,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. “Three times the parties agreed to a humanitarian cease-fire. It is critical that they actually live up to what they committed themselves to do. What we need immediately is a cease-fire to ensure that humanitarian aid gets through.”

The fighting threatens to ensnare Turkey, an ally of Azerbaijan, and Russia, which supports Armenia.

Complicating matters even further is that the conflict is taking place near pipelines that carry oil and gas from Azerbaijan to international markets.

The Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh defense ministry said it counted 1,009 deaths among its forces since the fighting broke out on Sept. 27.

Azerbaijan has not announced its casualties, but Russia estimated the death toll to be as many as 5,000.

Nagorno-Karabakh, bordering northern Iran, is recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is under control by ethnic Armenians.

With Post wires

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