BAKU: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday tried to mend fences with Azerbaijan and to promote a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute and also pressed the authoritarian, oil-rich country on human rights.
A US-backed push for a rapprochement between Armenia and US ally Turkey has hurt US relations with Azerbaijan, which worries that its interests will suffer as a result.
Baku in April accused the US of siding with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, a largely Christian region that seceded from Muslim Azerbaijan and proclaimed independence after a war in the 1990s that killed some 30,000 people.
As a result of the strains in the relationship, including the absence of a US ambassador for more than a year, Baku threatened to “reconsider” its ties with the US.
Strategically located between Russia and Iran, Azerbaijan has been a key supply route for US troops in Afghanistan but multiple issues have frayed ties.
While seeking to improve relations and make some headway on Nagorno-Karabakh, Clinton also pressed Azerbaijan to show greater respect for civil liberties and said she had raised the case of two jailed opposition bloggers.
Nagorno-Karabakh: Hosting Clinton at his palatial summer residence on the Caspian Sea, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev made clear that his priority was Nagorno-Karabakh.
“This is a major problem for us and the major threat to regional security,” Aliyev told Clinton. “We want to find a resolution as soon as possible,” he added “Our people are suffering.”
Clinton said the US was committed to its ties with Azerbaijan. “The issues that you mention are of importance to us,” she said.
Azerbaijan wants Nagorno-Karabakh back, if necessary by force. More than 15 years of mediation have failed to produce a final peace deal and the threat of war is never far away.
Last month, four ethnic Armenian troops and an Azeri soldier died in an exchange of fire near Nagorno-Karabakh.
Clinton is the second top US official to visit Azerbaijan in a month, following Defence Secretary Robert Gates’ early June trip designed to smooth ruffled feathers and to guarantee US supply lines for Afghanistan. (Reuters)
<< Back to Daily News
* * *
* Disclaimer: NKR Office does not necessarily
share views of these writers
or news organizations.
1334 G Street, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005
tel: (202) 223-4330, fax (202) 223-4332, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org