On Sunday, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a speech in Armenia to show her support for the country following deadly clashes with its neighbour Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan’s “illegal and deadly strikes,” which Pelosi sharply denounced in a press conference, “threaten hopes for a much-needed peace accord,” she continued. She claimed that the United States is keeping a close eye on the issue and continues to encourage a negotiated settlement.

Azerbaijan and Armenia have been at odds for many years over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory. This week, fighting between the two countries broke out. The dispute has escalated significantly since 2020, when the two countries fought a war over the same region that claimed thousands of lives. A cease-fire went into force on Wednesday, and both nations accuse the other of starting the current fight.

Pelosi’s statement was deemed “very unfortunate” and “unfair” by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which stated in a release on Sunday that it is “a major damage to attempts to improve relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”

In an effort to emphasise the U.S. commitment to Armenia’s security, democratic governance, and economic success, Pelosi’s office announced that she would lead a congressional delegation to Armenia on Saturday. According to the press release, Pelosi is the highest-ranking American official to travel to Armenia since it gained independence in 1991.

The death of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Empire soldiers in the early 20th century was acknowledged as genocide by President Joe Biden last year. Biden’s historic statement is a significant departure from earlier U.S. administrations, which refrained from using the term “genocide” because they feared offending Turkey.

During her visit, Pelosi laid a wreath at the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial, tweeting: “Congress is committed to always fulfilling our collective responsibility to protect the memories of the deceased, affirm the history of this atrocity, and ensure such a nightmare can never reoccur.”