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U.S. Embassy Denies Karabakh Recognition Threat

YEREVAN -- The U.S. State Department has strongly denied an Azerbaijani media report that alleges Washington threatened to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state unless Baku commits to a peaceful resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute over that territory, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The daily "Yeni Musavat" claimed that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Tina Kaidanow issued the warning during a recent visit to Baku, the Azerbaijani capital.

It cited Kaidanow as telling Azerbaijani leaders that they should avoid attempting to win back Karabakh by
force or risk a formal U.S. recognition of the disputed region's secession from Azerbaijan.

Terry Davidson, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Baku, dismissed the report on November 4 as "manufactured."

Davidson said Kaidanow said "nothing like that" but did speak "at length about U.S. support for a peaceful resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in an interview with ANS TV."

Analysts also disputed the credibility of the report, saying it contradicts Karabakh-related policies of successive U.S. administrations.

Rasim Musabekov, a prominent Azerbaijani pundit, suggested that the Azerbaijani report of Kaidanow was an attempt by unspecified forces to undermine Azerbaijan's relations with the United States.

He noted that the "Yeni Musavat" report coincided with a visit to Washington by an Azerbaijani government delegation.

The delegation is made up of senior Azerbaijani diplomats and security officials.