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YEREVAN — The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives has accused Azerbaijan of being behind the latest flare-up in fighting with Armenia as she made a high-profile trip to Yerevan in the part of a public show of support.

Nancy Pelosi spoke on September 18, a day after arriving in the country. She is the highest-ranking US official to visit Armenia since the country gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Asked at a press conference in Yerevan about the latest spasm of fighting, which erupted last week, Pelosi said her trip had special significance in the wake of Azerbaijan’s “unlawful and deadly attacks” on the country. ‘Armenia.

“We strongly condemn these attacks,” Pelosi said, adding that the border fighting was sparked by Azerbaijani attacks on Armenia.

“As for what Armenia expects [from the United States]we expect active support for [our] democracy, sovereignty and territorial integrity in all possible directions,” Alen Simonian, speaker of the Armenian parliament, said at the press conference.

WATCH: Nancy Pelosi laid flowers Sept. 18 at a hilltop monument in Yerevan to honor the nearly 1.5 million Armenians who died during World War I in a campaign of violence orchestrated by the Ottoman Turks.

Azerbaijan condemned Pelosi’s remarks, calling them “unacceptable”.

“The baseless and unjust accusations made by Pelosi against Azerbaijan are unacceptable,” the Foreign Office said in a statement. statement. “This is a serious blow to efforts to normalize relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

“These unilateral actions and baseless statements serve not to strengthen the fragile peace in the region, but to heighten tensions,” the ministry said.

Later the The US State Department said Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and urged him “to respect the ceasefire, disengage military forces and work to resolve all outstanding issues between the Armenia and Azerbaijan through peaceful negotiations”.

The Azerbaijani press service said that “the parties stressed the importance of strengthening the ceasefire, ensuring lasting peace and stability and normalizing Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, including the continuation of talks on a peace treaty and the opening of transport corridors”. He said the US side made the call.

Earlier, ahead of meetings with President Nikol Pashinian, Pelosi laid flowers at a hilltop monument in Yerevan honoring the nearly 1.5 million Armenians who died during World War I in a campaign of violence orchestrated by the Ottoman Turks.

The killings have been called genocide by a growing number of historians, as well as by the US Congress, which unanimously passed genocide resolutions in 2019.

US President Joe Biden also officially declared the killings a genocide in April 2021.

“From the United States to Ukraine to Taiwan to Armenia, the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy, and we must choose democracy again,” Pelosi said in a post. on Twitter the day before his arrival.

The remarks referred to other high-profile trips she has taken in recent months. In May, she traveled to Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy amid his country’s ongoing war with Russia.

Last month, she traveled to Taiwan, a trip that was angrily denounced by China, which considers the island nation a renegade province and has vowed to reunite it with mainland China.

Pelosi hails from California, which is home to one of the largest ethnic Armenian communities in the United States. She was accompanied on her trip by Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo, both Californian representatives of Armenian descent and who face re-election in November, and Representative Frank Pallone (Democrat of New Jersey).

The delegation’s trip comes days after the worst violence in two years between Armenia and Azerbaijan, fighting that left more than 200 people dead on both sides.

Since before the Soviet breakup, the two sides have fought over a mountainous region called Nagorno-Karabakh. Ethnic Armenian forces took control of it in 1994. In 2020, however, Azerbaijan, which has spent years building up its armed forces, has driven Armenian forces out of much of the region and surrounding districts. .

In the latest spasm of violence, the two countries exchanged artillery and mortars across their common border, and Azerbaijani forces targeted sites even within Armenia’s borders.

Russia, which has ties to both countries, brokered a ceasefire shortly after the fighting began, but clashes continued.

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