Aliyev Begins Russian Visit Hopes to Improve Relations

MOSCOW (Reuter)–Azeri President Gaidar Aliyev began his first state visit to Russia on Wednesday–hoping to improve relations and seal a big oil deal but also to raise the thorny issue of Russian aid for his Armenian adversaries.

"I have high hopes for this visit," Aliyev told Interfax news agency on his arrival in Moscow.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Valery Serov told Interfax the two sides–whose relations have been strained in the past–would initial a new-look version of a friendship and cooperation treaty signed in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"This document contains important modifications which reflect new realities," said Serov–who is in charge of relations with other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States–a loose body grouping most ex-Soviet republics.

"This accord has a solid base and I hope to be able to sign it," Aliyev said on arriving in Moscow. "I also hope to sign several other documen’s which have direct reference to economic cooperation between our two countries," said Aliyev–who held talks with Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on his arrival in Moscow.

The treaty is due to be signed on Thursday


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