March 30, 2016 / 11:02 PM / 4 years ago

Kerry calls for 'ultimate resolution' of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attends a news conference together with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 24, 2016 REUTERS/Alexander Nemenov/Pool

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on Wednesday for “an ultimate resolution” of the two-decade-old Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia during talks with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev at the State Department.

Aliyev is in Washington for a two-day nuclear security summit hosted by President Barack Obama on Thursday and Friday.

“We want to see an ultimate resolution of the frozen conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh that needs to be a negotiated settlement and something that has to be worked on over time,” Kerry said during a brief photo opportunity with Aliyev.

The conflict broke out in the dying years of the Soviet Union but efforts to reach a permanent settlement have failed despite mediation led by France, Russia and the United States.

Nagorno-Karabakh lies inside Azerbaijan but is controlled by ethnic Armenians.

Aliyev thanked the United States for trying to end the conflict but said it could only be resolved through a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for the “immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops” from Azerbaijan.

“The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, all the conflicts in post-Soviet area and in the world, must be resolved based on territorial integrity of the countries,” he said.

Oil producing Azerbaijan frequently threatens to take the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh region back by force. Clashes around the region have fueled worries of a wider conflict breaking out in the South Caucasus, which is crossed by oil and gas pipelines.

Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Tom Brown

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