Speaker Nancy Pelosi will travel to Armenia this weekend in a show of support for the country, which has been locked in a deadly fight with Azerbaijan, two people familiar with the visit told POLITICO.
Pelosi will make the journey accompanied by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) after a stop in Berlin for the G-7 Speakers’ Summit. She’s expected to meet with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Yerevan, the capital, as well as other government officials.
It will be the speaker’s latest dramatic foreign trip following her contentious arrival in Taiwan last month. With the midterms approaching — and the possibility that she will lose the gavel if Republicans return to the majority — the belief in Washington is that Pelosi wants to cement her legacy as a champion of human rights, not only in the United States but around the world.
Speier, meanwhile, is one of a handful of Armenian-American lawmakers in Congress.
When asked about the upcoming trip, Drew Hammill, the speaker’s deputy chief of staff, said, “We don’t confirm or deny international travel in advance due to longstanding security protocols.” Speier’s office did not immediately return requests for comment.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a bloody, decadeslong feud over Nagorno-Karabakh, the territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but populated with ethnic Armenians. Two years ago, both nations fought their second big war over the contested land, leading to thousands dead and more regional power for Baku.
Violence erupted again last weekend, with officials in both capitals blaming the other for attacking first. Armenia claimed Azerbaijan’s military used drones, artillery, mortars and small-arms fire to target a number of border towns. Azerbaijan, however, said Armenian forces were moving into position for a long-term escalation of fighting.
More than 170 soldiers on both sides have been killed in skirmishes over the past few days, officials in Yerevan and Baku claim.
Russia said it had brokered a cease-fire Tuesday, but it was short-lived and violence continued into Wednesday.
Pelosi’s visit will mean a lot to the Armenian-American community, which has called for more political focus on the crisis. “Armenia has not received the kind of attention Ukraine has received, and this will shine a light on a country crossing an international border in violation of international law,” said Anthony Barsamian, co-chair of the Armenian Assembly of America.
Sarah Ferris contributed to this report.
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