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Azerbaijani Minister Says No Discussion Of U.S. Bases

  • Robert McMahon

http://gdb.rferl.org/0C5D5431-4764-45A8-8B69-E626D362B112_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/0C5D5431-4764-45A8-8B69-E626D362B112_mw800_mh600.jpg Will U.S. military jets land in Azerbaijan? Washington, 4 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mamedyarov says he has not discussed the issue of U.S. military bases in his country during a three-day visit to Washington.

Mamedyarov was asked about the base issue at a briefing of foreign policy experts in Washington today. He said "there is no request" regarding U.S. bases in Azerbaijan and suggested it was an obsession of the Russian media.

"I think that it's mostly speculations and we are working very closely with the Americans on the security issues," he said. "This is our choice. This is in the interest of our national security. We are working on the various different programs quite successfully."

Media reports, citing Azerbaijani sources, say Baku and Washington are close to a deal on a base. Mamedyarov said his talks with officials at the White House, State Department, and Defense Department focused on other matters.

Asked about the general issue of foreign troops in the South Caucasus, Mamedyarov said it is best to "avoid unnecessary military presence in our part of the world."
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