BAKU: President starts official visit to Iran

Assa-Irada, Azerbaijan
Jan 24 2005

President starts official visit to Iran

Baku, January 24, AssA-Irada

President Ilham Aliyev arrived in Tehran on Monday on the invitation
of his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Khatami.
In his meeting with Aliyev, Khatami said Iranian media and public are
closely following the visit. The Azerbaijani President, in turn, gave
a high assessment to the Azerbaijan-Iran relations and voiced
confidence that the documents to be signed will be beneficial.
President Aliyev told a press conference following the meeting that
Azerbaijan continues cooperating with Iran in all areas, including
politics, economics and the humanitarian field. He said that
bilateral relations are rapidly developing and the current level of
ties meets the two countries’ interests. Aliyev also pointed out that
there is a potential to further strengthen the ties in an efficient
manner.Touching upon the Garabagh conflict, Khatami said Iran
supports Azerbaijan’s stance.
`Our position is clear and Iran is one of the very few countries that
support Azerbaijan’s position on the issue. We support a conflict
resolution not by force but through talks and diplomacy.’
Khatami said Iran is ready to cooperate with the conflicting sides in
resolving the Garabagh problem.
Asked why Iran has expressed a firm position on the Palestine issue
but not on the Garabagh problem, Khatami said he condemns all steps
aimed at occupation.
`Israel has completely occupied the Palestine territory. However,
unlike Israel, Armenia has not occupied such a large portion of
Azerbaijan’ land.’
Following the press conference, Aliyev had a broad meeting with
Khatami, and then met with Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi.
On Tuesday, President Aliyev is expected to meet with the chairmen of
the Iranian Islamic Council Assembly Haddad Adil and of the state
advisory council Alakbar Hashimi Rafsanjani, as well as Iran’s
spiritual leader Seyid Ali Khamnei. Aliyev will also visit the
`Khodro’ mechanical engineering plant, the Mausoleum of Imam Khomeyni
and the Azerbaijani embassy in Iran.
On Wednesday, the President will hold another meeting with Khatami to
be followed by signing of about 10 documents.
A $1 million grant, to be allocated by Iran under these documents,
will be spent on building the Shahtakhti-Poldashti bridge over the
Araz River in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.
Iran also plans to allot $4 million in loans for the construction of
the Astara-Baku highway.
President Aliyev will wrap up his visit to Iran after visiting
Azerbaijan’s Chief Consulate in Tabriz.*