U.S. State Department hails House initiatives for Karabakh peace

U.S. State Department hails House initiatives for Karabakh peace

PanARMENIAN.Net - The U.S. State Department has officially welcomed proposals by U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), Ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (D-NY) and more than 80 of their House colleagues to check Azerbaijan's escalating aggression, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

The Department's support for the Royce-Engel peace proposals comes during a year that has already seen 40 Armenians killed by the Azerbaijani military -- 4 just last week. Earlier on Tuesday, December 15, Azerbaijani Minister of Defense, Zakir Hasanov, publicly pledged renewed anti-Armenian aggression, stating "we are going to inflict even more devastating attacks."

In the November 12 State Department response to the Royce-Engel letter, a copy of which has been shared with the ANCA, Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Julia Frifield explained: "The United States supports proposals to withdraw snipers, expand OSCE's role via an OSCE investigation mechanism and deploy sensors along the line of contact and the Armenia-Azerbaijan international border. [...] Without a mechanism to verify ceasefire allegations, or sensors to pinpoint the location of gunfire, it is difficult for the Co-chairs to make specific accusations against one side's use of force."

Armenia and the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh have agreed to all three provisions advanced in the Royce-Engel letter. The Obama Administration and the OSCE also support these initiatives. Only Azerbaijan opposes their implementation. At the December 9 Capitol Hill celebration of Karabakh freedom last week, Chairman Royce announced a special Congressional briefing with U.S. Ambassador James Warlick - the State Department official responsible for the Nagorno Karabakh peace talks - to get concrete answers to his concerns.

The conflict between Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan

The conflict between Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan broke out as result of the ethnic cleansing launched by the Azeri authorities in the final years of the Soviet Union. The Karabakh War was fought from 1991 (when the Nagorno Karabakh Republic was proclaimed) to 1994 (when a ceasefire was sealed by Armenia, NKR and Azerbaijan). Most of Nagorno Karabakh and a security zone consisting of 7 regions are now under control of NKR defense army. Armenia and Azerbaijan are holding peace talks mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group up till now.

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