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Top Baku Official Criticizes U.S. Ambassador For Remarks To RFE/RL

The chief of Azerbaijan's presidential office, Ramiz Mehdiyev, has harshly criticized the U.S. ambassador to Baku for recent remarks to RFE/RL in which he called on Azerbaijani authorities to stop the persecution of civil society organizations.

In an interview with the AzerTAj news agency on May 22, Mehdiyev called the remarks by U.S. envoy Richard Morningstar a "gross interference in the internal affairs" of Azerbaijan, which he said is "inadmissible in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations."

In response, Morningstar, in a statement posted on the U.S. Embassy's website, said that if his May 16 interview prompts a "good-faith discussion" of the issues among government officials and members of civil society, "that alone would make the interview worthwhile."

Morningstar hailed Azerbaijan's "tremendous progress" since gaining independence and expressed confidence that more is to come.

With reporting by