ELMAR MAMMADYAROV AND CONDOLEEZA RICE SIGN MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING ON ENERGY SECURITY COOPERATION
Visiting Washington Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister, Elmar Mammadyarov met March 22 with US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice. Following short discussions, the sides signed a US-Azerbaijan Memorandum of Understanding on Energy Security Cooperation in the Caspian Region. U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Matthew Bryza said prior to the signing ceremony that the agreement expresses the intention of the Governments of the United States and Azerbaijan to convene a high-level dialogue on energy security in the Caspian region. The high-level dialogue will aim to deepen and broaden already strong cooperation among governments and companies to expand oil and gas production in Azerbaijan for export to global markets. Of particular focus will be realization of the Turkey-Greece-Italy gas pipeline, and potentially the Nabucco and other pipelines, with Azerbaijani gas, to help Europe bolster its energy security by diversifying its natural gas supplies.
Following the meeting with C. Rice, Elmar Mammadyarov told AZERTAG correspondent that discussions with US Secretary of State mainly focused on the current peace talks regarding the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan’s human rights records and democratic reforms as well the country’s policy in the region. Condoleeza Rice stressed that Azerbaijan remains committed to democratic reforms, and the USA is ready to help Azerbaijan in this process. Minister E. Mammadyarov said the Government of Azerbaijan is interested in carrying out democratic reforms, and expressed hope for the cooperation with the U.S. in this area. Elmar Mammadyarov updated his American counterpart on the last meeting with Armenian Foreign Minister in Geneva, saying that step-by-step resolution of the conflict is the only way out. According to him, the Armenian armed forces must leave the occupied territories; refugees and IDPs must return to their homes; measures to establish trust between the two peoples should be taken. C. Rice said USA, as co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, would continue its efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.
On March 22, E. Mammadyarov met with officers of the US congressional Azerbaijan caucus, Solomon Ortiz and Bill Shuster. Azerbaijani FM invited congressmen to Azerbaijan. During the meeting, the sides considered Azerbaijan’s policy in the region and prospects of oil and gas projects. S. Ortiz welcomed Azerbaijan’s regional policy. E. Mammadyarov said that the section 907 of the Freedom Support Act contradicts the US interests. He urged American congressmen to make every effort to repeal it.
Azerbaijan’s relations with the Latin America states were discussed during Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov’s meeting with Secretary General of the Organization of American States, José Miguel Insulza. Minister said Azerbaijan is going to open its diplomatic missions in Argentina and Mexico to establish close ties with this region. Mr. Insulza invited Azerbaijan to participate as an observer in the 37th session of the OAS General Assembly to be held in June in Panama. OAS Secretary General said energy issues will be in spotlight of the upcoming session, and proposed to hold consultations on this topic with the Azerbaijani side. As the chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Minister discussed the prospects of cooperation between OIC and OAS.
Foreign Minister is also scheduled to meet March 23 with White House National Security Advisor and US Deputy Secretaries of Energy and Defense. E. Mammadyarov will return home on the same day.