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Azerbaijan/Georgia: Leaders Sign 22 Agreements

Prague/Baku, 19 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - The leaders of Azerbaijan and Georgia signed 22 bilateral agreements yesterday on economic, political, scientific, environmental and cultural cooperation. The signing came on the first day of a three-day official visit to Baku by Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze.

Shevardnadze and Azerbaijan's President Heydar Aliyev told reporters after their meeting they also signed a joint declaration on strategic cooperation. They say the accord foresees, in part, the establishment of a system of mutual security to ensure their countries' territorial integrity as they develop into democratic states with the rule of law and market economies. They say the accord also provides for Georgian-Azerbaijani coordination within European and international organizations.

Itar-Tass quotes the president of Azerbaijan's state oil company Natik Aliyev as saying a newly signed framework agreement on cooperation between Azerbaijan and Georgia in the oil-and-gas sector establishes a legal basis for transporting through Georgia oil and gas from Azerbaijan and other states bordering the Caspian Sea.

About 600,000 tons of Azerbaijan-produced oil are expected to be carried by rail from Baku to Georgia's Black Sea port of Batumi this year for onward shipping to world markets.