June 9, 2021 - 13:17 AMT
Acting Assistant Secretary: U.S. considers Azerbaijan a strategic partner

The United States considers Azerbaijan a "strategic partner", Acting Assistant Secretary Philip Reeker said in a Baku on Tuesday, June 8, local media report.

Reeker reportedly told a conference that he discussed with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev priority topics such as energy and economic ties, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and security in the region.

In an earlier roundtable discussion with the media, the Acting Assistant Secretary said the U.S. has been very concerned by recent developments along the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, including the detention of six Armenian soldiers by Azerbaijani forces.

"Too many lives have been lost in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and we are concerned the situation at the border could escalate. We call on both sides to resolve these incidents urgently and peacefully. The United States considers any movements along the non-demarcated areas of the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan to be provocative and unnecessary. We reject the use of force to demarcate the border and call on both sides to return to their previous positions and to cease military fortification of the non-demarcated border and emplacement of landmines," Reeker said.

"The United States urges the sides to return as soon as possible to substantive negotiations under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to achieve a long-term political settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The United States will continue to work with international humanitarian organizations, as well as our Allies and partners, to meet humanitarian needs in the region. But only through a peaceful settlement of the conflict can the people of the South Caucasus truly thrive and prosper."

Reeker earlier paid a visit to Georgia and is expected to arrive in Armenia after Azerbaijan.