Azeri, Russian Leaders Meet To Talk Trade, Karabakh

156970811ULYANOVSK, Russia (Rio Novosti)–The Russian and Azerbaijani presidents met in the Volga city of Ulyanovsk on Tuesday for talks focusing on bilateral trade and the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

Dmitry Medvedev and Ilham Aliyev laid flowers at a memorial to the Azerbaijani leader’s late father, Geidar Aliyev, who oversaw rescue efforts in the city after a steamship accident on the Volga in 1983, when he was the Soviet Union’s deputy prime minister.

They also attended a ceremony to rename the square hosting the memorial after Aliyev, a longtime leader of Azerbaijan whom his son succeeded in the 2003 election, after his death.

The Azeri leader’s visit to Russia comes after Karabakh peace talks in Munich Sunday between Aliyev and Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian.

It was the first meeting of the Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders after Armenia and Turkey, Azerbaijan’s Muslim ally, signed in October accords to restore diplomatic ties and reopen borders.

Russia, a mediator in the conflict, has stepped up efforts to spur the peace process between the two ex-Soviet Caucasus states. Media reports said the Kremlin fears a failure in the negotiations could hamper arms and other trade contracts with Azerbaijan.
But Aliyev warned ahead of the talks that Baku does not rule out the use of force to tackle the Karabakh conflict if no progress is not made in Munich.

Medvedev and Aliyev also attended the opening of a bridge across the river in Ulyanovsk, 893 kilometers (555 miles) east of Moscow. The Russian leader hailed Geidar Aliyev’s contribution to the city’s development, saying the bridge, designed in the 1980s, was “a monument of kinds” to him.

“I am happy that our countries continue their successful cooperation today,” Aliyev said at the bridge ceremony. “We have maintained very close contacts as presidents, regarding our relations as strategic and as those of friends and neighbors.”

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