US Invites Aliyev for First Official Visit to US

BAKU (Reuter)–The United States has invited Azeri President Gaidar Aliyev to make the first official visit since the former Soviet republic gained independence in 1991–officials from both countries said Monday.

An Azeri presidential spokesman’said Aliyev’s visit was likely take place in July or August. US Embassy spokesman Richard Brown confirmed the invitation.

The invitation comes after recent signs that Washington would like to step up efforts to mediate a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Azeri officials said the US invitation could lead to warmer relations and the eventual removal of US legislation barring government aid until Baku ends the economic blockade of Armenia.

Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright discussed the Karabakh conflict earlier this month during talks in Moscow.

Aliyev has twice visited the United Nations–but has never been invited for an official visit to Washington.

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