Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces clashed in several parts of Nagorno-Karabakh on Friday, as the United States stepped up diplomatic efforts to try to end the deadliest fighting in the mountain enclave for over a quarter of a century.
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met separately with the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia in a new attempt to end nearly a month of bloodshed that Russian President Vladimir Putin said may have killed 5,000 people.
The collapse of two Russia-brokered ceasefires has dimmed hopes of a quick end to fighting that broke out on Sept. 27 over Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway territory of Azerbaijan controlled by ethnic Armenians.
U.S. President Donald Trump said “good progress” was being made on the issue but did not elaborate and declined to say if he had spoken with the leaders of either country. “We’re working with Armenia. We have a very good relationship with Armenia … We’ll see what happens,” he told reporters in the Oval Office.
A handful of protesters from both sides, holding Armenian and Azeri flags and banners, chanted outside the State Department on Friday. Both ministers held separate meetings with Pompeo that lasted around 30 to 40 minutes.
Speaking at a virtual event held by the Atlantic Council think tank, Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan said he had “very productive” meetings with Pompeo.