Prague, 13 March 1997 (RFE/RL) - A U.S. State Department delegation headed by Eric Newsome, deputy head of the military policy division, held talks in Baku today with representatives of Azerbaijan's Foreign and Defense Ministries and with President Heidar Aliyev. The delegation arrived in Baku yesterday from Yerevan, where Newsome met Armenia's President Levon Ter-Petrosyan to discuss security issues in Europe and the southern Caucasus.
Newsome handed President Aliyev a letter from Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. He noted the development of bi-lateral contacts between Washington and Baku, and said the objective of his visit was to expand contacts on security issues.
The talks focused on safeguarding transportation arteries, Azerbaijan's participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, NATO expansion, regional problems and Azerbaijan's compliance with the CFE treaty.
Azerbaijan's foreign minister, Hasan Hasanov, told our correspondent that the United States thinks Azerbaijan should abide by the CFE's limits on military deployments. But Hasanov thinks this issue can only be addressed in the context of the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh. A ceasefire has been in force in the mostly ethnic-Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan since 1994, but a permanent settlement has still to be reached.
Newsome invited a delegation of specialists on security and defense issues to visit the United States. President Aliyev expressed his approval for such a visit.