Vedant Patel, Principal Deputy Spokesperson at US State Department referred to the appointment of Louis L. Bono, as Senior Advisor for Caucasus Negotiations during the regular press briefing. The readout from the State Department says:
QUESTION: On the South Caucasus, the Secretary just made an announcement this afternoon. He appointed – basically, Ambassador Reeker was replaced with, if I’m not mistaken, a non‑ambassador career diplomat, Louis Bono. I was wondering if he is going to carry the same badge, because I read through the statement; I didn’t see much about his job. Basically the role is really outlined, but I did not see the name of Minsk Group or chief negotiator. Is it still the same job?
And secondly, is it the Secretary’s concern that the sides, Azerbaijan and Armenia, are sleepwalking towards another war?
MR PATEL: So, Alex, let me say a couple of things. First, broadly, I think you know this – you’ve covered this issue closely – this is something that is of deep importance to the Secretary. It’s something that the department is paying close attention to. Secretary Blinken in particular, as you know, had the chance to speak with both the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan. So this is something that we’re going to continue to remain deeply engaged on.
On the subject of Mr. Bono, he is the lead for U.S. engagement to promote peace and stability for the South Caucasus. And he also represents the United States in the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair format, as his predecessors have in this role. Specifically, what I will say, though, about his qualifications – as I just said, this is an enduring priority for the Biden administration. And Mr. Bono is a senior leader in the department with significant experience working on challenging and complex issues. And he has the personal confidence of Secretary Blinken and this department in taking on this new role.
QUESTION: Do you have any announcement on – of trip, upcoming trip for him?
MR PATEL: I don’t have any trips or travel to preview yet for you.
QUESTION: Do you have a new tool that he’s going to use, or is it the same badge, same tools?
MR PATEL: I don’t have any new policies to announce today, Alex. But again, this is of course something that we’re going to continue to pay close attention to and focus on.