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Azerbaijani Minister Warns Of War With Armenia

(RFE/RL) 6 December 2005 -- Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar Abiyev said today that war could resume if Armenia recognizes Nagorno- Karabakh's independence.

At a meeting with U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Jim MacDougall, Abiyev said the longstanding conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave poses a threat to the security of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline.

The pipeline is soon set to start delivering Caspian Sea oil to the Mediterranean.

According to a Defense Ministry statement, Abiyev said the Armenian leadership declared that it could recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh. But he said if it does, it could lead to the resumption of fighting.

Armenia said last month that it could officially recognize Nagorno-Karabakh if negotiations on its status reach a dead end.

A 1994 cease-fire ended a six-year war that left Nagorno-Karabakh, a mainly ethnic Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, in Armenian hands. Some 30,000 people were killed and 1 million displaced.

The region's self-declared independence is not recognized internationally.