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US wants to invite Armenia, Azerbaijan to upcoming NATO summit, sources tell Azerbaijani media

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk June 27, 2024 11:11 AM 3 min read
An exterior view of NATO headquarters on Dec. 4, 2018, in Brussels, Belgium. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)
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The U.S. is planning to invite Armenia and Azerbaijan to the upcoming NATO summit in Washington in July, the Azerbaijani media outlet Turan reported on June 27, citing unnamed sources.

Both Azerbaijan and Armenia, which have long been geopolitical foes, have previously partnered with NATO but have not directly sought membership.

Sources told Turan that the summit could facilitate bilateral talks on the ongoing peace process between the two countries and would be "a wonderful opportunity that is too good to miss." It is unclear at the time of this publication if the invitations have already been sent, and if Armenia and Azerbaijan have accepted or plan on attending.

The news came as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James O'Brien is scheduled to arrive in Baku on June 27, in what will be his third trip to the South Caucasus in two months.

"We are very clear with (Azerbaijani President Ilham) Aliyev that this is a time to make peace," O'Brien said at a Senate committee ahead of the trip.

Russian ‘peacekeepers’ complete withdrawal from Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan says
Several thousand Russian “peacekeepers” were deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh in the fall of 2020 following another escalation of the years-long Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over the region. The withdrawal began in April.

Azerbaijan undertook a successful offensive in September 2023 to reclaim the Nagorno-Karabakh region, recognized by international law as a part of Azerbaijan but de-facto under the control of the ethnic Armenian self-proclaimed republic since the early 1990s.

Peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan have been ongoing since then but have yet to reach a definitive conclusion.

The growing ties between Armenia and Western institutions like NATO have also illustrated the shifting tides of Russian influence in the region.

Armenia had long relied on Russia as its primary regional ally, but relations between the two countries have continued to sour after Russian peacekeepers declined to act during either the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in 2020 or the September 2023 Azerbaijani offensive that effectively concluded the conflict.

Since then, Armenia has openly sought to establish new defense partnerships.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced earlier in June that Armenia would withdraw from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military alliance consisting of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan.

"We will leave," Pashinyan told the Armenian parliament, accusing the CSTO of plotting "against us with Azerbaijan."

"We will decide when to leave. We won't come back, there is no other way," Pashinyan said.

Politico: Belarus supplied arms to Azerbaijan in ‘betrayal’ to Armenia
Belarus delivered advanced weapons to Azerbaijan for years, despite being in a Russia-led security alliance with Armenia, Politico reported on June 13, citing a cache of leaked documents.

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