Clinton Expresses Concern About Increasing Armenia-Azerbaijan Tensions

Posted June 4th, 2012 at 4:55 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she is very concerned about escalating tensions on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan as she began a trip to Europe's Caucasus region.

Clinton told reporters in Armenia's capital, Yerevan, Monday that use of force in the majority ethnic Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh will not resolve the conflict. She condemned what she calls “the senseless deaths of soldiers and civilians” just hours after the latest clash killed at least three Armenian soldiers.

Clinton made the comments after having dinner with Armenian President Serzh Sarkisyan.

VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns says Clinton is also urging Turkey to normalize relations with Armenia, saying the ball is in Turkey's court.

“Clearly that is one of the biggest issues the United States would like to help resolve. The feeling is that Armenia is potentially quite a significant economic power but is restricted at present by not being able to trade either with Turkey or with Azerbaijan. There is a hope that there can be progress toward resolving the dispute between Turkey and Armenia. State Department officials say they believe the ball is in Turkey's court.”

Clinton travels next to Georgia and Azerbaijan, where she is expected to focus on economic, political and security ties with the United States.

Ahead of her stop in Azerbaijan Wednesday, the country's Supreme Court freed Harvard-educated political activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev from prison. He was jailed last year on charges of dodging the military draft. But Hajiyev insisted he was imprisoned for political reasons. A group of U.S. senators had been demanding his release.