Baku Moscow Call for Expanded Relations

BAKU (Itar-Tass)-Azeri Prime Minister Artur Rasizade and visiting Russian Deputy Prime Minister Valery Serov said on Monday that the two countries would strengthen cooperation both within the guidelines of the Commonwealth of Independent States and on a bilateral basis.

The state of bilateral relations does not correspond with Azerbaijan’s and Russias national interests and needs to be improved–Rasizade and Serov said–adding that trade cooperation should be boosted.

Serov said a "good team" was accompanying him to help solve problems which had come afloat after the breakup of the Soviet Union. The Russian delegation included diplomats– border guards–military men–as well as transport– communications and oil industry officials.

The issue of limited transport communications between the two countries is a major problem which will be discussed at the talks. The limits were imposed by Russia about two years ago because of the events in Chechnya.

The Russian side also intends to restore railway communications between the station of Culfa in Nakhichevan and stations in Armenia and Iran. The sides may discuss the transit of Azerbaijani oil through the Russian territory.

During his meeting with Azeri President Gaidar Aliyev– Serov called for an increase in bilateral trade–which is presently only 10 percent of the 1991 level.

Aliyev and Serov also discussed the restoration of transport communications between the two countries.

There is no need to set up enterprises or industries making the same goods in the two countries–Aliyev said– adding that Azerbaijan was ready to supply Russia with oil- producing equipment–petroleum products–vegetables–cotton– wine and receive goods which were not produced in the republic in return.

The development of bilateral economic cooperation will serve the interests of both nations–Aliyev and Serov said. According to them–Azerbaijan and Russia have similar viewpoints on cooperation both within the guidelines of the CIS and on a bilateral basis.

What is important now is to pass from declarations to action–they said. Aliyev described as an economically important step the operation of a 1411 km-long pipeline from Baku to Novorossiisk–which is ready to transport Azeri oil to international markets.

Both sides supported attempts to reach peace and stability in the Caucasus including a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. They expressed hope that 1997 might be a year of major breakthroughs in Azerbaijani- Russian relations.

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