US Dep State Secretary says US uninterested in bases in Azerbaijan

ITAR-TASS News Agency
March 27, 2004 Saturday

US Dep State Secretary says US uninterested in bases in Azerbaijan

By Sevindj Abdullayeva, Viktor Shulman


U.S. Administration has no interest in placing its military bases in
Azerbaijan, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told a news
conference here Saturday.

The U.S. does not have any such intentions, he indicated.

As he mentioned the problem of the 16 year-old ethnic conflict in
Nagorno-Karabakh, Armitage said the problem could not be solved upon
orders from above and the sides would have to reach agreement on
their own.

The Minsk group on Nagorno-Karabakh, set under the auspices of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is just a
mediator in a search for solution, Armitage said.

Had it been so easy to settle the Karabakh dispute, it would have
long been settled, he said.

Armitage did not rule out that conflict there might see new relapses
in the future.

Recent events in Kosovo show that the situation may change at any
moment, and that is why early settlement of the issue would
definitely meet the interests of all the sides, Armitage said, adding
that more efforts to reach peace in the Karabakh area would follow.

He stressed the U.S. Administration’s conviction that Turkey and
Armenia would do a good thing if they opened their common border.

This was one of the issues he had discussed with Azerbaijani
President Ilham Aliyev, who believes, however, that the
Turkish-Armenian border opening might impair progress the talks on
the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, Armitage said.

He underlined the reassuring changes that had taken place in
Azerbaijan since 1992, but said the country could have done better in
the field of human rights.

Armitage also insisted that more freedom must be given to the mass
media here.