BAKU, November 28. /TASS/. Washington’s recent statements and steps regarding Azerbaijan have seriously harmed the bilateral relationship with Baku, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a telephone conversation.
"President Ilham Aliyev pointed out in the phone call that the United States’ recent statements and steps regarding Azerbaijan had seriously harmed Azerbaijani-US relations," the presidential press service said in a statement.
In particular, Aliyev stressed that Azerbaijan had refuted US Assistant Secretary of State James O'Brien’s remarks before a hearing of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, which the Azerbaijani president characterized as biased and not reflective of reality. He added that Baku had reacted appropriately to the US announcement of the cancellation of bilateral meetings and high-level contacts and the assertion that the bilateral relationship could not remain as it used to be.
The Azerbaijani president also noted that Baku had canceled visits by high-ranking US officials.
According to the presidential press service, Blinken asked Aliyev to allow O’Brien to visit Azerbaijan in December in a bid to shore up relations. Aliyev agreed with the proviso that Washington lift its ban on US visits by high-ranking Azerbaijani officials, a condition which Blinken accepted.
On November 15, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs James O'Brien said at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the US authorities had canceled a number of visits by high-ranking Azerbaijani officials due to the lack of progress in reaching a peace settlement between Baku and Yerevan. He added that the US had also suspended military and other aid to Azerbaijan.
Baku, in turn, stated that it viewed visits to Azerbaijan by high-ranking US officials as impossible due to Washington’s position. In addition, Baku refused to participate in a meeting of top diplomats from the US, Armenia and Azerbaijan, which was expected to take place on November 20.