France called Tuesday for an urgent UN Security Council meeting and the United States said it was reaching out diplomatically after Azerbaijan launched a military operation in the ethnic Armenian separatist enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Blasts were heard in the mountainous territory as Azerbaijan demanded the withdrawal of Armenian forces, just one day after aid was allowed in through the sole road link to Nagorno-Karabakh.
France called for the Security Council to meet on the crisis, which comes as leaders gather for the annual General Assembly.
This operation is “illegal, unjustifiable and unacceptable,” French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna told reporters.
“I would like to emphasize that we hold Azerbaijan responsible for the fate of Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh,” she said.
She condemned the “use of heavy weapons including in populated areas.”
The French foreign ministry earlier said that the operation “threatens thousands of civilians already affected by a month-long illegal blockade and which runs against efforts by the international community to reach a negotiated settlement.”
A senior US official said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken was holding talks on the crisis with officials including from Turkey, a close ally of Azerbaijan.
“We had actually good news yesterday,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
“We were hopeful that we were going to be able to adapt to the longer-term issues,” the official said, “so that makes this incident overnight particularly egregious and particularly dangerous.”
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held talks Tuesday by telephone both with Blinken and French President Emmanuel Macron, a spokesperson said in Yerevan.
France and the United States, which both have large Armenian diasporas, have both been active on Karabakh. Blinken has led three rounds of peace talks with the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers.
Azerbaijan earlier protested an effort by French mayors to push aid into Nagorno-Karabakh.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – AFP)