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Iran, Azerbaijan stress expansion of relations

Tehran, July 31, IRNA -- Iran and Azerbaijan discussed here Saturday possible avenues for bolstering of bilateral ties in various fields.

Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Elmara Mammadyarov, in a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharrazi, expressed his country's determination and interest in further expanding ties with Iran.

He stressed the importance of the upcoming visit by President Mohammad Khatami to Azerbaijan and said the visit would be a major stride towards expansion of mutual relations.

The Azeri minister expressed satisfaction with growing economic relations between the two sides and hoped new economic agreements would be signed during President Khatami's visit to Baku.

Mammadyarov assessed talks on legal regime of the Caspian Sea as positive, adding the Caspian Sea should be the sea of friendship and cooperation among the littoral states.

He hoped littoral states would reach a consensus on the legal regime of the sea. He voiced Azerbaijan's interest in joining the North-South Corridor and stressed the role Baku plays in materializing the projects to this effect.

Kharrazi, for his part, said Iran attaches special importance to expansion of ties with neighboring states, adding President Khatami's future visit to Azerbaijan would be an indication of high level of ties between the two countries.

"Tehran regards as important its ties with Azerbaijan Republic particularly both from economic and geopolitical points of view and considers the common borders as borders of friendship and peace," he said.

He outlined the background of relations between Tehran and Baku since the independence of Azerbaijan, saying "Iran attaches great importance to a powerful Azerbaijan which safeguards national and regional interests in this sensitive and strategic region."

He urged the two sides to further try to achieve high level of cooperation.

Kharrazi termed trade and economic cooperation between the two countries as "progressive" and added, "Iran and Azerbaijan have launched good cooperation in various fields including transfer of electricity, development affairs, road-building, construction of power plants and energy. "Such cooperation can further expand."

He said Iran regards strengthening of popular bonds as very important and underlined the importance of continued supportive policies and easing travels of Iranian and Azeri nationals within framework of policy to further expand mutual transactions.

The two sides also exchanged views on regional issues, including Karabakh.

Kharrazi stressed that as a friendly country, the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to contribute to settlement of Karabakh dispute.

He said Tehran pursues settlement of Karabakh dispute within framework of the charters of the UN and of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

The Azeri foreign minister arrived here early Saturday on a two-day official visit to discuss bilateral ties.

Azerbaijan's special envoy for Caspian Sea affairs accompanies Mammadyarov in the current visit.

Mammadyarov is also to visit the northeastern city of Tabriz. He is to return to Baku through the autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan.

... Payvand News - 7/31/04 ... --

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