ArmInfo.It is up to the two countries [Armenia and Azerbaijan] to decide [on their next meeting], but the U.S. thinks that continued engagement directly between Armenia and Azerbaijan is not only in their interests, it is in the interests of the region and beyond, Ned Price, Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, told a news briefing.
He continued as follows:
"I will let the two sides speak to their attitudes. It was important for us and for the Secretary in particular to bring the two sides together. Of course, the Secretary had had conversations with the two leaders, but this was the first face-to-face meeting that the two foreign ministers had since the latest outbreak of violence.
"The Secretary noted to both leaders the importance of maintaining the ceasefire, of maintaining the calm, said - noted that we're dedicated to a sustainable ceasefire and to a peaceful resolution. We made clear to both foreign ministers that the United States stands ready to support - to support this bilaterally, multilaterally, together with partners. This includes our support for efforts by EU Council President Charles Michel bring the leaders together.
"They during the course of that meeting discussed the best path forward, and the Secretary suggested the sides share ideas for how to meaningfully advance the peace process before the end of the month.
"Our message has been consistent for some time. We call on Azerbaijan to return troops to their initial positions. We urge disengagement of military forces and work to resolve all outstanding issues between Armenia and Azerbaijan through peaceful negotiations. The use of force is not an acceptable path. We've made that clear privately. We've also made that clear publicly, and we're glad that our continued engagement, including at high levels, including last week in New York, with both countries has helped to halt the hostilities, and we'll continue to engage and encourage the work needed to reach a lasting peace because there can be and there is no military solution to this conflict.
"We have offered to be of assistance, again, bilaterally, trilaterally, multilaterally, and of course the EU is playing an important role as well. We are in regular contact with both Armenian and Azeri officials. That will continue.
"Again, as we've discussed in other contexts, the United States is not and cannot be in a position to submit a plan as a fait accompli. Our task is to bring the sides together, to facilitate dialogue, to help the sides together work through differences, to work through disagreements peacefully and diplomatically. That's what last week was about. That's what our continued engagement is about."
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, following his meeting with the Armenian and Azerbaijani FMs in New York, reported he had proposed one more meeting before the end of this month to ensure progress in normalizing the Armenian-Azerbaijani relations.