Speaker Pelosi strongly condemns 'illegal and deadly attacks by Azerbaijan' during visit to Armenia

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds a press conference in the Parliament in Yerevan on September 18, 2022. – US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned on September 18, 2022, Azerbaijan’s attack on Armenia, days after border clashes between the Caucasus arch foes claimed the lives of more than 200 people. (Photo by Karen MINASYAN / AFP) (Photo by KAREN MINASYAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Karen Minasyan | Afp | Getty Images

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks in Armenia on Sunday to express support for the nation in the wake of deadly clashes with neighboring Azerbaijan.

In a press conference, Pelosi strongly condemned “illegal and deadly attacks by Azerbaijan” and added that the violence “threatens prospects for a much-needed peace agreement.” She said the U.S. is watching the situation closely and continues to support a negotiated settlement.

Fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan broke out this week as part of a decades-long standoff over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The clash marks the biggest escalation of the conflict since 2020, when the two nations engaged in a war over the territory that left thousands dead. Each country blames the other for the renewed conflict, and a cease-fire took effect on Wednesday.

Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called Pelosi’s statement “deeply regrettable” and “unfair,” writing in a release Sunday that it is “a serious blow to efforts to normalize relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”

Pelosi’s office announced that she would lead a congressional delegation to Armenia on Saturday in an effort to highlight the U.S.’s commitment to Armenia’s security, democratic governance and economic prosperity. Pelosi is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Armenia since it achieved independence in 1991, according to the release.

Last year, President Joe Biden officially recognized the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Empire forces in the early 20th century as genocide. Biden’s historic declaration is a major break from past U.S. administrations, which avoided calling the atrocities genocide due to concerns over alienating Turkey.

Pelosi placed a wreath at Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial during her visit, writing on Twitter: “Congress is committed to always honoring our collective responsibility to uphold the memory of the dead, affirm the history of this tragedy, and ensure such a horror can never again happen.”

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