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New U.S. Ambassador In Baku Says No Military Solution To Karabakh

U.S. Ambassador Matthew Bryza in Baku
BAKU -- U.S. diplomat Matthew Bryza held talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on February 17 after presenting his credentials as the new U.S. ambassador in Baku, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Bryza said he and Aliyev had a friendly, frank, and positive exchange of views covering a wide range of issues. Bryza said there could be no military solution to the conflict over the disputed breakaway Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

"We realize that a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will be great for the region," he said. "It will strengthen the prosperity and increase the strategic importance of this entire region."

Bryza said the two recent warnings by the U.S. State Department against travelling to Azerbaijan due to the threat of terrorism were not issued lightly.

"The second message that we issued stressed that the situation is serious," Bryza said. "At the same time I want to stress that we are quite pleased with the cooperation and support we enjoy from the government of Azerbaijan."

He said Washington was ready to help finalize agreements between Azerbaijan and Western countries on energy-sector projects that are commercially attractive.

"Countries and companies have entered a serious stage of negotiations as they move forward in completing a southern corridor to connect Azerbaijan even more deeply to Europe and to help Europe to diversify its own supplies of natural gas," Bryza said.

He added that the United States welcomed Azerbaijan's recently announced anticorruption initiative. Critics of the campaign, which was initiated by Aliyev amid the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, say it is a populist move and the government is only paying lip service to the fight against corruption.

Bryza's nomination by President Barack Obama to be ambassador to Azerbaijan was controversial.

Armenian-American organizations protested what they said was Bryza's bias against Armenia in his previous role as a co-chairman for the OSCE Minsk Group that seeks a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Bryza's nomination was frozen in the U.S. Senate and Obama appointed him without a vote after the Senate went into recess.