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17 Sep, 2022 17:50

Pelosi arrives in Armenia amid deadly conflict

The Democrat said that her visit conveys American support for Yerevan
Pelosi arrives in Armenia amid deadly conflict

Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US House of Representatives, landed in Armenia on Saturday after several days of clashes between the Armenian and Azerbaijani militaries. Pelosi’s office said that the trip would promote an end to a border dispute that has erupted into conflict twice in the last two years. 

Pelosi arrived in Yerevan on Saturday afternoon and headed straight for talks with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. She was accompanied by Democrat Reps. Frank Pallone, Anna Eshoo, and Jackie Speier, the latter two of whom are of Armenian descent.

According to a press release from her office, Pelosi will meet with government leaders, security officials, and civil society members in Yerevan, and will “convey the strong and ongoing support of the United States” for a settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is populated mostly by ethnic Armenians, sought to break away from Azerbaijan in the early 1990s. Baku claims the territory as its own, while Yerevan supports its independence bid. The two countries fought a 44-day war over the region in 2020, which ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire.

FIghting erupted again on Tuesday, however, with Armenia accusing Azerbaijan of launching artillery and drone strikes across its border. Baku, meanwhile, claimed it was only responding to Yerevan’s “provocation.” Dozens of soldiers on both sides were killed over the following two days, until Pashinyan sought help from the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), after which Azerbaijan proposed a truce.

Pashinyan said on Friday that the Armenian death toll from the clashes had reached at least 135, while Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said on Friday that it had lost 71 soldiers.

Armenian Security Council Secretary Armen Grigory thanked the “international community” for securing the truce, without elaborating further on which countries were involved. Together with France and the US, Russia co-chairs the Minsk Group of mediators, which has spent decades holding peace talks between Baku and Yerevan.

The US, and Pelosi’s electoral district specifically, is home to a substantial Armenian diaspora, which called on Washington to support their homeland after the latest round of fighting broke out.