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Azerbaijan: President Will Be First To Visit U.S.

New York, 28 July 1997 (RFE/RL) Azeri President Heidar Aliyev is due to arrive this morning in New York to begin a state visit to the United States, the first by a head of state from Azerbaijan.

Aliyev is scheduled to hold talks with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, as well as top officials from the U.S. treasury, defense, energy and state departments. He will meet President Bill Clinton on Friday at the White House.

Aliyev told reporters yesterday before leaving Baku that he has high expectations for his U.S. visit, which will also include stops in Texas and Chicago. He said the dispute with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh will be the focus of his talks with Clinton and Annan. Pro-Armenian groups in the U.S. are vowing to protest Aliyev's visit.

In addition to Nagorno-Karabakh, talks will cover a wide range of political, economic and security issues, including commercial cooperation on Caspian Sea oil projects. Aliyev is expected to sign contracts worth $10 billion with U.S. oil giants Exxon, Chevron and Mobil to develop three new offshore Caspian Sea fields.