BAKU: US Azeris should have close ties with Congress,congressman tel

US Azeris should have close ties with Congress, congressman tells Azeri TV

Space TV, Baku
25 May 04

US Congressman Curt Weldon, vice chairman of the House Armed Services
Committee, has urged American Azeris to be more active and to support
the Azerbaijani caucus in the US Congress, Azerbaijani Space TV said
on 25 May.

In a live link-up with the studio of Space TV and a panel of
experts, the head the Azerbaijani caucus called on the US Azeris
to “have relations with Congress members and ask them to join the
Azerbaijani caucus” which is “a small group of 10 people”. “However,
we are growing. The caucus has representatives of both parties,”
Weldon said, adding that the Israeli and Armenian caucus are much
stronger because they take this issue seriously.

Curt Weldon said that the caucus was set up to inform US congressmen
of Azerbaijan and to prevent any laws “directed against your country’s
interests” from being adopted. “This is the best way of establishing
cooperation between the two nations,” he said. “In some cases,
this is a kind of bridge to help to avoid conflicts and perhaps,
some negative feelings your people or other nations might have about
the USA,” Weldon said.

“The US congressmen want to bring together the Azerbaijani and Armenian
leaders and tell them that we want to be friends with both nations
and both countries. Do not force us to take sides. We do not want to
do that,” he said.

Questions were asked about the amount of the US aid to Armenia which
is larger than that to Azerbaijan especially in view of Azerbaijan’s
active involvement in the US-led antiterror fight. In reply to the
question, Weldon said that his “country and president highly values
Azerbaijan’s role in the fight against terrorism”.

Weldon added that “Azerbaijan’s decision to send its military force to
Iraq is highly appreciated as well as the fact that the Azerbaijani
sons and daughters are taking part in that side-by-side with the
Americans. The Americans should be made aware of this. As for your
question whether the US Congress is aware of Azerbaijan’s role
in the fight against terrorism, I would say that most of them are
not. The purpose of the caucus is to better inform them. You asked
me why Armenia receives such extensive support. This is because the
Armenian caucus is strong. There are a couple of reasons for that. The
Armenians have had their caucus for many years. Hundreds of thousands
of Armenians live in the USA. They have close relations with their
congressmen. The US Armenians are very active and ask congressmen to
work with Armenia on significant issues. The US Azeris should be more
active with their congressmen.

“What we do not want is to be pro-Armenian against Azerbaijan
or pro-Azerbaijani against Armenia. We want the US congressmen
to understand both countries well and to make friends with both
countries and their peoples. To achieve this, we would like Armenia
and Azerbaijan to understand each other better. We want something
similar with other countries as well,” Weldon said.

The deputy speaker of the Azerbaijani parliament, Ziyafat Asgarov;
a member of the Azerbaijani delegation to the Council of Europe,
MP Asim Molla-zada; the head of the section of the presidential
executive office for work with Azerbaijanis abroad, Rustam Mammadov;
and the editor-in-chief of the Russian-language newspaper Ekho and a
Space TV correspondent, Seyran Mammadov, were all members of the panel.

The “Ekspert: Azerbaijan-USA TV bridge” programme was broadcast on
Space TV at 1630 gmt on 25 May and also at 0730 gmt on 26 May and
hosted by Sevinc Mirzayeva.