Aliyev Protest to Yeltsin Over Alleged Arms Sales to Armenia

BAKU (BBC)–Azeri President Gaidar Aliyev has written to his Russian counterpart Boris Yeltsin expressing "serious concern" at alleged Russian plans to export missile systems to Armenia–the Russian news agency Interfax reported on Saturday from Baku.

The letter was sent following a confidential meeting of the Azeri Security Council on Thursday which advised the president not to attend a CIS summit meeting scheduled to be held in Moscow on March 19–the agency said–quoting an unnamed source "close to Aliyev."

The source said Baku had received reports of alleged "secret negotiations" between the Russian and Armenian defense ministries in January and February on plans to export Russian weapons to Armenia–including S-300 missile systems.

"This caused entirely natural indignation in Azerbaijan," the source was quoted as saying. In his letter to Yeltsin–Aliyev also expressed his concern at the "absence of an appropriate reaction" from Moscow to the illegal supply of 1 billion dollars’ worth of Russian arms to Armenia–which was publicized by Russian government ministers last year.

The source said Baku was also concerned at Russia’s refusal to extradite Shahin Musayev–the former chief of staff of the Azeri armed forces who was arrested by the Russian authorities at the end of 1997 and is wanted in Azerbaijan on charges of treason.

The same source quoted contacts in Moscow as saying Yeltsin had read the letter in spite of his current illness–but gave no details of the Russian president’s reaction.

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