October 5, 2018 - 12:38 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Democrat Bob Menendez (D-NJ) grilled U.S. Ambassador-designate to Azerbaijan Earle Litzenberger on Thursday, October 4 about Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's "bellicose rhetoric and sporadic outbursts of violence," securing from the nominee a commitment that he would urge the Azerbaijani government to step back from any threatening behavior that disrupts the line of contact, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“If confirmed, what steps will you take to urge the Azerbaijani government to step back from its threatening behavior and permit necessary monitoring along the line of contact,” asked Senator Menendez during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee nomination hearing. Litzenberger responded that the U.S. is working along three lines – the non-use of force, respect for territorial integrity, and the right to self-determination. Litzenberger noted that the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs condemn “any violence and any threat of the use of violence along the line of contact,” without specifically citing Azerbaijan’s attacks. In response to a follow up question from Senator Menendez as to whether he would, as U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan, “urge the Azerbaijanis to step back from any threatening behavior that disrupts the line of contact,” Litzenberger responded, “that’s a fair statement, sir.”
Asked by Senator Menendez whether U.S. security assistance to Azerbaijan should be curtailed based on human rights abuses, Litzenberger responded that the State Department will be "very careful to ensure that nothing that we do or provide [in terms of U.S. security assistance] to Azerbaijan undermines the effort to reach a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict." He went on to note that U.S. security assistance to Azerbaijan will continue to include training in human rights, a point of heightened concern since the Safarov scandal.
“We want to thank Senator Menendez for securing a commitment from the State Department that our next U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan will press the Aliyev regime to step back from its threatening and violent conduct,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.