Report: Pompeo To Host Talks With Armenia And Azerbaijan As Conflict Intensifies

(Photo by KAREN MINASYAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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Foreign Ministers for Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday to discuss the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, according to multiple reports. 

The meetings were announced by each of the Caucasus countries Tuesday as fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh intensifies, Reuters reported. The dispute over the region which is legally part of Azerbaijan but controlled by ethnic Armenians has claimed hundreds of casualties since fighting broke out in late September, per Reuters. 

Two ceasefires have been negotiated thus far but neither has been adhered to, per Reuters. Russia has reportedly been the primary mediator up to this point after Moscow, Paris and Washington, D.C., jointly called for an end to the violence weeks ago. (RELATED: State Of Emergency Declared In Ex-Soviet Republic As Protests Turn Violent)

Some say fear of a widening regional conflict may be reason for the U.S. to step into a larger peacemaking role, and NATO ally Turkey has grown more involved in recent escalations of the violence. Turkey denies reports that it has sent rebel fighters from Syria into Nagorno-Karabakh, but the regional power has increased arms sales to Azerbaijan throughout this year, Reuters reported. 

Azeri Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov is set to meet with envoys from the Minsk Group — a watchdog co-chaired by Russia — France and the United States while in Washington, D.C., Reuters reported. The Minsk Group, which has attempted to mediate this particular conflict for years now, was recently called “brain dead” by Turkish Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop, according to Reuters. 

Armenia has not released details on the plans for Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan’s time in Washington, says Reuters. Armenia has a defense pact with Russia, per previous reporting. Armenian President Armen Sarkissian said he does not want Russia to intervene on his country’s behalf so that the region doesn’t become “another Syria” in an interview with France 24.