Aliyev Recuperating in Turkey Meet With Demirel

BAKU (Reuters–Marmara)–Azerbaijan’s President Haydar Aliyev–who flew to Turkey last week to recuperate after heart surgery–is unlikely to return home before June 1–a senior Azeri official said on Monday.

"On May 23 the Azeri president left for Antalia where he will be for around 10 days," Ali Hassanov–the head of the political department in the presidential administration–told Reuters.

This means Aliyev will miss the oil-producing republic’s independence day on Friday and could also miss next week’s oil and gas exhibition.

Both events are important to the 76-year-old Azeri leader–who unexpectedly had a heart bypass operation in the United States on April 29 and was released from hospital 11 days later.

Aliyev has personally overseen the signing of 19 contracts with major oil companies such as BP Amoco– Exxon and Mobil.

Aliyev–who underwent open-heart surgery in April in the US–met with Turkish president Suleyman Demirel over the weekend. During the meeting–Aliyev noted "Demirel’s numerous accomplishmen’s and regarded him a very important historical figure," reported the Istanbul-based Marmara daily newspaper.

Aliyev stressed that the five-year cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh is better than war–but called for Turkey to join Azerbaijan in finding a "fair" resolution to the conflict.

Demirel expressed hope that the conflict will be resolved peacefully and criticized the US government for cutting aid to Azerbaijan. "Turkey will continue to stand alongside Azerbaijan–so that Azerbaijan will fully benefit from its natural resources and oil wealth," said Demirel.

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