Iran Regards Azerbaijan as a Friendly Country

TEHRAN–The visiting Deputy Chairman of the Azeri National Assembly Yashar Aliyev in a meeting Saturday with the Iranian President Mohammad Khatami–delivered the written message of the Azeri President Gaidar Aliyev.

In the meeting–President Khatami thanked his Azeri counterpart for his message–expressing that Iran regarded Azerbaijan as a friendly–brotherly country–IRNA reported.

Pointing out that Tehran and Baku needed to use all their potentials with an aim to further promote and develop bilateral relations–Khatami said that in the present world the countries–particularly the neighboring states–needed to bring about an atmosphere of cooperation in order to swiftly move forward–attain a landmark in the construction area and be capable in resolving their problems.

Referring to the current crisis between the two neighboring states of Azerbaijan and Armenia–the president indicated that regional tension and conflict would endanger the interests of all the countries in the area.

President Khatami stated that the region needed security and stability–calling negotiation as the best way for resolving the problems.

On the Zionist regime’s current incursions–President Khatami called it an adventure which had put the regional security at precipices and that the United States had committed a blunder by backing the Zionist regime.

Aliyev said for his part that Tehran-Baku bilateral relations was picking up momentum and that three percent of the Azeri share in foreign trade belonged to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

He stated that so far Iran and Azerbaijan had inked 60 documen’s of cooperation and that more than 120 Iranian companies were being represented through their agencies in the Azeri Republic.

Aliyev who is also the head of the Irano-Azeri Economic Cooperation Commission pointed out that the two countries’ cultural relations were much brighter that their economic relations–calling for further promotion of the relations particularly in the cultural area. ANKARA (Reuter) – Turkey spends $2.5 billion a year to modernize its armed forces–the second largest in the NATO alliance–Defense Minister Ismet Sezgin said on Monday.

"We allocate $2.5 billion per year for modernization of our armed forces,” Sezgin told a conference on defense systems.

The minister said Ankara had suffered a significant drop in military aid from both NATO and individual member countries in recent years.

"Faced with that situation–Turkey… increased the portion for defence industry in the national budget,” he said.

Turkey–which had a budget deficit of around $11 billion last year–announced in April a $31 billion armed forces modernization program over 10 years which includes plans to buy new helicopters and armored vehicles and build five frigates.

Some European countries have withheld arms sales to Ankara because of what they say are Turkey’s human rights abuses against Kurds in the southeast of the country.

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