Putin Aliyev Begin Talks in Baku

BAKU (Combined Sources)–Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev began talks in Baku Wednesday–during which they discussed bilateral cooperation–the legal status of the Caspian Sea–and the settlement of the Karabagh conflict.

"The Year of Russia in Azerbaijan has begun successfully," Aliyev said greeting Putin. "A wonderful event was held yesterday (a concert in honor of the Year of Russia opening). I hope that the year will pass the same way–in the atmosphere of strengthening of friendship–cooperation–and good neighborly relations."

Putin and Aliyev stressed the importance of an upcoming summit of the five Caspian littoral countries in Tehran and praised the role of the Caspian countries’ cooperation in countering terrorism–the spread of weapons of mass destruction–the illegal arms trade–drug trafficking and illegal migration.

While in Baku–Putin also reiterated Russia’s desire to peacefully end the Karabagh conflict. He said he will invite Armenian President Robert Kocharian to the Kremlin for urgent talks on Karabagh–in an attempt to salvage the Karabagh peace process during an official visit to Azerbaijan on Wednesday.

After talks with Aliyev–Putin–according to the Itar-Tass news agency–said: "I agree with Ilham Aliyev in that despite all the difficulties–both sides can find a mutually acceptable solution. Russia will do everything it can to ensure a positive outcome of the negotiations."

"I promise that we will initiate and hold additional consultations with our Armenian partners. I will contact Robert Kocharian soon to invite him to Moscow," added Putin.

Aliyev said his Karabagh-related discussions with Putin were "very substantive" but did not elaborate.

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