YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said Sunday that the United States deplores recent attacks by Azerbaijan and called for a negotiated solution to the countries' conflict.
Pelsoi's visit to the Armenian capital, Yerevan, with a congressional delegation came just a few days days after two days of shelling by both sides that killed more than 200 troops. It was the largest outbreak of hostilities in more than two years.
The two ex-Soviet countries have been locked in a decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is part of Azerbaijan but was long under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994.
During a six-week war in 2020, Azerbaijan reclaimed broad swaths of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent territories held by Armenian forces. More than 6,700 people died in that fighting.
Armenia and Azerbaijan each blamed the other for starting the shelling attacks last week.
Pelosi on Sunday met with Alen Simonyan, president of Armenia's parliament, and told reporters afterward that “Our meeting again had a particular importance to us because the focus was on security following the illegal and deadly attacks by Azerbaijan on the Armenian territory.
“We strongly condemn those attacks — we in our delegation on behalf of Congress — which threaten prospects for a much-needed peace agreement,” she said. “The United States ... has clearly and has long stated that there can be no military solution to the conflict. We continue to watch the situation closely and we continue supporting a negotiated, comprehensive and sustainable solution to all issues relating to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”
The Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry sharply criticized her comments.
“Pelosi’s baseless and unfair accusations against Azerbaijan are unacceptable," it said in a statement.
“We emphasize with regret that Pelosi, who speaks of justice, has not purposefully shown any position until today regarding the policy of aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan, the occupation of the territory of Azerbaijan for almost 30 years, the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis and other similar grave crimes, for which Armenia is responsible,” the ministry said.