U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., touched down with a congressional delegation in Armenia in the wake of violence along the border with Azerbaijan.
‘Our congressional delegation’s visit to Armenia is a powerful symbol of the United States’ firm commitment to a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Armenia and a stable and secure Caucasus region,’ Pelosi said in a statement Saturday.
‘In working meetings with government leaders, civil society members and members of the security establishment, we will convey the strong and ongoing support of the United States, as an OSCE Minsk Chair and longtime friend to Armenia, for a lasting settlement to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh,’ she added.
Fighting broke out Tuesday between Armenia and Azerbaijan as both sides accused one another of provocation. Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to broker a quick truce, with some reports later suggesting the deal collapsed.
The Armenian Defense Ministry reported that at least 49 soldiers were killed in late-night shelling attacks, while Azerbaijan claimed 50 of its service members died. Armenian officials said fighting had diminished in some areas, but Azeri forces continued to try and advance into the country’s eastern territory.
Civilian infrastructure was damaged in the attacks, but civilian casualties in Armenia remain unknown.
The U.S. Embassy in Armenia said Pelosi will speak with a number of officials during her visit, including Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Speaker of the National Assembly Alen Simonyan and other senior Armenian officials.
‘The U.S. Embassy in Armenia is looking forward to welcoming a U.S. congressional delegation led by Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to Yerevan later today,’ a statement from the embassy said, adding that Pelosi will discuss ‘U.S.-Armenian relations and the current security situation.’
The Tuesday conflict stems from decades of aggression over a contested mountainous territory in the South Caucasus known as Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but has been under the control of Armenia-backed forces since 1994.
Pelosi touted the U.S. support for Armenia, saying the congressional delegation members have been ‘proud and longtime champions’ of Armenia.
‘Congresswomen Anna Eshoo and Jackie Speier bring a personal commitment to this fight as proud Armenian Americans and as Californians, home to America’s largest Armenian population,’ Pelosi explained. ‘Chairman Frank Pallone of New Jersey is the longtime co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues.’
‘Our delegation looks forward to productive meetings that will continue to strengthen our partnership with the Republic of Armenia and advance our values and interests in the region,’ Pelosi concluded.
President Biden made history shortly after taking office when he formally recognized the Armenian genocide, a measure the Armenian population in the U.S. has struggled to achieve for decades.
Past White House administrations avoided outright recognition to avoid hurting relations with Turkey, which remains a key NATO ally.
Fox News’ Caitlin McFall and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.