BAKU: US Defense Secretary avoids question on Upper Garabagh

Assa-Irada
Aug 13 2004

US Defense Secretary avoids question on Upper Garabagh

BAKU

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld held a press conference at the
Heydar Aliyev Airport of Baku prior to leaving Azerbaijan.
Rumsfeld said that in his meetings with President Ilham Aliyev and
Defense Minister Safar Abiyev he thanked the Azerbaijani people for
the contribution to anti-terror operations.
Touching upon the details of the talks held in Baku, the US Defense
Secretary said issues of bilateral cooperation were discussed.
He said the US cooperation with Azerbaijan in this area promotes the
tranquility in the Caspian region, fighting international terrorism,
smuggle of goods, transit of narcotics, and weapons of mass
destruction.
`The American people appreciate Azerbaijan’s efforts at fighting
terrorism globally and our military cooperation will continue’,
Rumsfeld said. He noted that he did not discuss with President Aliyev
the issue of expanding the contingent of Azerbaijani peacekeepers in
Iraq an Afghanistan.
Rumsfeld added that the USA was in talks with its allies on the
upcoming presidential election in Iraq and that he discussed the
issue with Azerbaijani government officials.
He avoided a question on whether the US could step up assistance in
settling the Upper Garabagh conflict and make changes to its policy
in this respect.
`As you know, the United States supports the territorial integrity of
Azerbaijan. Washington’, Rumsfeld said and added that Washington was
involved in the Minsk Group.
Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar Abiyev who attended the news
conference called on the United States to demand that Armenia
withdraw from the occupied land of Azerbaijan.
Touching upon the involvement of Azerbaijani peacekeepers in Iraq,
Abiyev said this was a political issue and that he would be able to
address it after a political decision is made.
With regard to Iran’s nuclear program, Rumsfeld said it represents a
threat for the neighboring countries.
Referring to the recent visit by the Iranian President Khatami to
Baku, the US Defense Secretary said he discussed the issue with
President Ilham Aliyev.*

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