Aliyev and Putin Sign Declaration Promising Cooperation During Moscow Visit

MOSCOW (Combined Sources)–Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev began his official visit to Moscow on Friday–meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov at the Kremlin.

The two leaders signed the Moscow Declaration–which outlines the main tracks in bilateral cooperation and documen’s the countries’ mutual commitment to strengthening strategic partnership and broadening cooperation in trade–the economy and the energy sector.

The Moscow Declaration also confirms their determination to cooperate in ensuring security in the Caucasus and in settling regional conflicts.

"We mapped out a number of measures to stabilize the situation in the military and military-technical spheres of the two countries–and discussed the latest developmen’s in the hot spots of tension," Ivanov said when concluding the talks.

"Russia is ready for military and technical cooperation with Azerbaijan on any scale and sees no need for restrictions of any kind," according to Lieutenant-General Albert Druzhinin–who heads the Russian Defense Ministry’s main department for international military cooperation.

Fighting against terrorism and the Karabagh conflict were the issues of the meeting held with Putin–following the meeting with the Defense Minister. Putin–who has described terrorism as "the plague of the 21st Century," said the world must unite to defeat terrorism. Aliyev expressed his condolences to Putin for those who were killed in a subway car explosion during the morning rush hour commute on Friday.

Talks are also being held to prepare a 15-year agreement to transit Azeri oil through Russian territory–Russian Energy Minister Igor Yusufov told journalists in the Kremlin. He said "Russia is ready to compromise–particularly regarding a reduction in the oil transit tariff."

The level of Azerbaijani oil transit through Russia in 2003 reached a record high of 2.7 million tons. Yusufov said that "although under the existing agreement Russia was ready to pump up to 5 million tons of Azerbaijani oil–the capacity of the pipeline system means that it is possible to pump up to 15 million tons of oil."

Russia is interested in increasing transit volumes–as well as increasing gas supplies to Azerbaijan because "the Russian production capacity and the level of gas production in the country make this possible," Yusufov added.

He also said that Russia wants to participate in the privatization of Azerbaijani electricity grids and generating capacities.

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