Khatami Aliyev Optimistic about Enhancing Cooperation

LONDON (IranMania)–Immediately after the formal welcoming ceremony for Azeri President Ilham Aliyev to Iran–the presidents of both countries expressed their desire to expand Tehran-Baku relations. President Mohammad Khatami–accompanied by Aliyev–told reporters at Sadabad Complex that Iran is keen on furthering relations with Azerbaijan.

Responding to an Azeri reporter’s inquiry about what Iran will do to help resolve the Karabagh crisis–President Khatami said that his country is among the few which support Azerbaijan’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity. "Iran believes that the Karabagh crisis could be resolved through logic and understanding between the two parties without resorting to force. I believe that the Karabagh conflict will be resolved if the two sides seriously decide to do so," he said.

Khatami noted that Iran has friendly relations with both Azerbaijan and Armenia and is ready to serve as a mediator between the two countries.

Asked whether he sees a similarity between the occupation of Arab lands by Israel and the situation in Karabagh–Khatami said Iran condemns occupation and use of force by any country. "Of course–there is a difference. I believe Israel has occupied all of Palestine and established an illegitimate existence–but Armenia is a country itself. But at the same time–occupation and seizure of an inch of territory is condemned and the international community should help end the occupation," Khatami said.

President Aliyev told reporters that his visit to Iran is aimed at developing relations in all fields–including the economy.

He pointed to the accords President Khatami signed during his visit to Baku and said Azerbaijan looks forward to implementation of the agreemen’s.

Aliyev further said Tehran-Baku relations are developing rapidly and political and economic cooperation is excellent.

"The exchange of visits by presidents of the two countries indicates the extent of relations enjoyed between the two," he said.

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