Azerbaijan Claims Friendship with Russia.

BAKU (Itar-Tass)–Azerbaijan adheres to the positions of friendship and strengthening of cooperation with Russia–Azerbaijan’s President Haydar Aliyev said on Monday during a meeting with visiting. Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov who arrived in Baku at the invitation of the government.

Aliyev stressed that his position was a strategic component of Azerbaijan’s foreign policy. Regarding Azerbaijan’s contacts with Moscow–Aliyev stressed the importance of increasing them in every area in the context of relations between the two countries.

At the same time the Azeri president expressed concern over the alleged continued supply of Russian weapons to Armenia and the installation of upgraded equipment at a Russian military base in Armenia.

Aliyev explained his concerns in two points: the Armenian-Azeri conflict being unresolved–and the Russia’s role as mediator in the conflict resolution process. He said he deemed Russia’s continued military backing of one of the sides to the conflict did not promote peace and stability in the region.

The Moscow mayor promised to inform the Russian president of the Azeri position. He also stressed the importance of further contacts between Moscow and Azerbaijan in business–trade–the scientific and cultural areas. He told Aliyev that he had brought 6,000 textbooks for Russian schools in Baku.

According to the information service f the Azeri Education Ministry–there are departmen’s with tuition in the Russian language at virtually every higher education establishment in Azerbaijan. Luzhkov will visit one such educational establishment on Monday.

He will also visit the Chirag deposit in the Azeri sector of the Caspian Sea which is being developed jointly with an international consortium–including the Russian LUKoil company.

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