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Turkey, Azerbaijan Agree To Joint Military Arms Venture

Azerbaijan's Minister of Defense, Safar Abiyev, has reportedly signed a contract with a Turkish company to produce missiles
BAKU -- Azerbaijan and Turkey have reportedly agreed during a visit by Turkish Defense Minister Vacdi Konul to Baku to build missiles jointly, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Konul met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and other officials from November 2 to 4 to discuss military cooperation and the conflict over the breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry reportedly signed a contract with Turkey's Roketsan company to produce some parts of reactive volley-fire system missiles in Turkey and other parts in Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan's APA agency reports.

No other details on the agreement were immediately available.

Konul met on November 2 with Defense Minister Safar Abiyev and discussed Karabakh. Abiyev reportedly said Azerbaijan has not excluded other options of conflict resolution in the case that peace talks do not yield results.

Konul also visited several military sites during his trip and met with Elchin Quliyev, head of Azerbaijan's border service.

Turkey has long been Azerbaijan's main military partner, and in September, the two countries signed a document on a strategic partnership council.

Military analyst Jasur Sumerinli told RFE/RL that Turkey has always given major military support to Azerbaijan and has been a mediator between Azerbaijan and NATO for the past 15 years.

"Turkish officers have worked at Azerbaijan's higher military schools and Turkish trainer-experts have been active in separate [Azerbaijani] military units," he said.

He added that Turkey has given strong support to the modernization and upgrading of Azerbaijan's armed forces in an effort to bring them up to NATO standards.

The military doctrine Baku adopted earlier this year allows for foreign military bases in Azerbaijan. That action opened the way to speculation that Turkey could quarter its troops in the Naxcivan region, an Azerbaijani exclave surrounded by Armenia and Turkey.

Sumerinli said Turkey played an important role in protecting Naxcivan against any foreign incursion after Azerbaijan gained independence.

"But it is not realistic for Turkey to place a military base in Naxcivan due to regional tensions," he said.