The United States welcomed Azerbaijan's decision to release Armenian prisoners of war.

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source: .reuters.com

Secretary of State Antony Blinken communicated his support for the gestures between the two nations and reiterated the call to "re-engage in substantive negotiations to negotiate a global political solution to the conflict."

The government of Joe Biden in the United States on Saturday celebrated Azerbaijan's decision to hand over fifteen Armenian citizens to Armenia, which it had held as prisoners of war since the armed conflict last year, in exchange for maps with the location of anti-tank and anti-personnel mines—in the Agdam region, controlled until November by Armenia.

"The United States applauds the release by Azerbaijan of 15 Armenian detainees and their return to their families in Armenia. We also welcome Armenia's decision to provide Azerbaijan with important information that will facilitate humanitarian demining and prevent future casualties," said a statement from Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

He added: "We thank the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili, and the essential role that Georgia has played in facilitating these steps, which bring the peoples of the region closer to the peaceful and prosperous future they deserve."

"The United States is pleased to support these steps and hopes they will lay the groundwork for further cooperation. We continue to call for the return of all detainees. We are ready to help the countries of the region in their efforts to continue cooperation and resolve outstanding issues between them," Blinken warned in the official note, which concludes with a new appeal to Armenia. and Azerbaijan to "re-enter substantive negotiations under the auspices of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group to negotiate a comprehensive political solution to the conflict."

The handover of the fifteen Armenians this Saturday was carried out with the participation of Georgian representatives on the Azerbaijani-Georgian border, the press service of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry reported in a statement.

"We thank the Government of Georgia, headed by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, for the support offered to this humanitarian mission," said the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, which also highlighted the contribution of the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, of the Assistant Secretary of State for the Office of European and Eurasian Affairs of the State Department, Philip Reeker, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the Swedish representation of the OSCE.

The Azerbaijani side noted that the mine location maps will save the lives of tens of thousands of citizens, including sappers, and speed up the re-establishment of Agdam and the return of refugees.

Agdam was one of the regions controlled by Armenia after the 1993 war in Nagorno Karabakh and was retaken by Azerbaijan in late 2020 when Yerevan was forced to sign a ceasefire declaration with Baku under Russian tutelage.

After the conflict, Armenia repeatedly demanded the return of prisoners of war detained during the armed conflict.

Last May, more than 120 MEPs, including nine Spaniards from five political groups, sent a joint letter to the presidents of the European Council and Commission, Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen, respectively, asking them to intercede for the prisoners of Armenian war still detained by Azerbaijan. The letter recalled that after the ceasefire declaration, the parties agreed to return the prisoners of war, something that the Armenians did "quickly."