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Azerbaijan Says NATO To Help Clear Unexploded Ordnance

(RFE/RL) 18 November 2005 -- Azerbaijan says NATO has agreed to help clear one of its regions of unexploded ordnance.

Azerbaijani media report that an agreement to that effect was signed today in Baku between Deputy Prime Minister Abid Sarifov and Robert Simmons, NATO's special representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia. Simmons later held talks with President Ilham Aliyev.

Under the agreement signed today, NATO is to help Azerbaijan clean a six-square-kilometer area in the northwestern region of Aqstafa.

A Soviet military depot in Aqstafa region was destroyed by a blast in 1991, leaving the surroundings infested with unexploded ordnance.

Azerbaijani media say accidental explosions in the area have since then killed more than 30 people and injured another 80.

Sarifov said the project would last 16 months and cost and estimated $1 million euros.