WASHINGTON–DC (Combined Sources)–US President George W. Bush welcomed Friday Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev for talks that ranged from their joint efforts in Iraq and Iran’s nuclear program to Azerbaijan’s dispute with Armenia over Karabagh and democratic reforms.
In the days running up to the meeting–Aliyev had made it clear that he will not allow his country to be used for any operations against neighboring Iran. Bush sought to allay Azerbaijan’s concerns–saying the United States wants to resolve the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program through diplomacy.
Bush has often said he intends to resolve the issue without the use of force–but he stresses that all his options are open–including the use of military force. On Friday–Bush didn’t mention the military option.
On Wednesday–April 26–Aliyev said that if the United States decides an attack is necessary–it would have to do so without Azerbaijan’s help because Azerbaijan and Iran–which share a nearly 300-kilometer border–have a non-aggression treaty.
Aliyev and Bush also discussed Azerbaijan’s continuing dispute with neighboring Armenia over Karabagh.
Bush and Aliyev said little of their discussions on these matters. The Azeri leader said only: "I informed Mr. President [of] the latest status of the negotiations [on Karabagh] and expressed my hope that a peaceful settlement of the conflict will happen and will serve the peace and stability in the whole region."
In his remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations–President Aliyev said he hopes the United States "as a superpower," will contribute to the resolution of the conflict.
The Azeri leader will be in Washington several days. He meets with members of Congress and with officials from non-governmental groups such as Freedom House and Human Rights Watch. On Friday–he visited the Pentagon and the White House.