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Iranian President Wraps Up Visit To Azerbaijan


http://gdb.rferl.org/2AA35214-9143-4CD0-AFBC-C6839B2F68F6_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/2AA35214-9143-4CD0-AFBC-C6839B2F68F6_mw800_mh600.jpg Azerbaijan's Aliyev and his Iranian counterpart Ahmadinejad (Fars) August 22, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad today wrapped up his two-day visit to Azerbaijan, where the leaders of both countries expressed confidence in their relations.


Speaking today at a news conference in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, Ahmadinejad said the neighboring countries share common views and should increase cooperation. He also warned foreign states against interfering in Iranian-Azerbaijani relations.


"We don't see any obstacles in enhancing our bilateral relations, but you know that there are some world powers that are enemies of the friendship between countries like us," Ahmadinejad said. "Zionists and countries with ties to world powers try to create obstacles and conflicts between these countries. But you're making a big mistake. The friendship between our two nations has a long history."


Ahmadinejad and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliyev, on August 21 signed five documents outlining potential cooperation in areas including energy, petrochemicals, and hydroelectric power.


The agreements also provide for the opening of a road across Iranian territory connecting Baku with Azerbaijan's Naxcivan exclave.


Ahmadinejad told the news conference that leaders of the five countries bordering the Caspian Sea -- Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan -- have agreed to hold a summit in Tehran.


The October 16 summit will attempt to break the deadlock over the division of access to Caspian Sea resources.


The Iranian leader also vowed to press ahead with the country's controversial nuclear program. He said U.S.-backed international sanctions will have "no impact" on Tehran's determination to develop nuclear technology.


His statement comes one day after Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) agreed on a timetable for Tehran to answer specific questions about its nuclear program, which the United States claims is aimed at making nuclear weapons.


Ethnic Tensions


The visit was Ahmadinejad's third trip to Azerbaijan in two years, although this is his first official trip to his oil-rich neighbor.


The warm words between the Iranian and Azerbaijani leaders, however, belied tensions in Azerbaijan about Iran's treatment of its large ethnic-Azeri minority.


Activists in Baku had planned a demonstration at the Iranian Embassy during Ahmadinejad's visit to call for the release of political prisoners in Iran and to demand more cultural and political rights for ethnic Azeris living in Iran. But the planned rally was blocked by police.


An RFE/RL correspondent in Baku reported that police detained at least nine people who were attempting to gather in front of the embassy, and seized cameras from photojournalists at the scene.


RFE/RL Iran Report


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