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Russian, Azerbaijani Presidents Meet In Moscow


http://gdb.rferl.org/9A279CE8-E00B-4466-8504-B4D8331901D9_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/9A279CE8-E00B-4466-8504-B4D8331901D9_mw800_mh600.jpg Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev (file photo) 16 February 2005 -- Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow today.

Putin said in welcoming Aliyev that an increasing number of Russian companies are planning to invest in Azerbaijan. He said bilateral trade reached $800 million last year and continues to grow at fast pace.

And Putin said he is pleased with the good attitude Azeris have toward the Russian language.

"I know how you personally care about the support of the Russian language in Azerbaijan, where nearly 40 percent of the population are Russian speaking," Putin said. "I mean those who speak Russian fluently."

Aliyev said Azerbaijan's close political contacts with Moscow have helped economic ties.

Both Russia and the United States have tried to assert their influence in Azerbaijan because of its abundant Caspian Sea oil deposits and strategic location near Iran and Iraq.

Aliyev is in Moscow to attend the opening of the Year of Azerbaijan in Russia -- a cultural initiative intended to strengthen bilateral relations.

(AP/ITAR-TASS)
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