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Former British Prime Minister Blair Visits Azerbaijan

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
BAKU -- Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has held talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku as part of a private visit, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Blair was invited by Azerbaijan's Methanol Company (AzMeCo) for a signing ceremony on December 1 of a $120 million loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to help finance a plant to convert natural gas into methanol.

Blair said the size of the loan shows the confidence international financial institutions have in Azerbaijan.

He added that Great Britain is one of the biggest investors in Azerbaijan.

The plant -- which will cost $300 million -- is being built in the Karadagh region south of the capital, Baku, and is due to be finished in 2010.

Other financial contributors to the plant are AzMeCo, the International Bank of Azerbaijan, the Black Sea Bank of Commerce and Development, and the Canadian company EDC.

AzMeco's owners are known to have close ties to Azerbaijan's ruling family.

Blair is a major supporter of the use of alternative fuels to prevent the release of greenhouse gases.