BAKU (Itar-Tass)–Russia attaches much importance to a settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict–said here on Sunday Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov after his meeting with Azerbaijan President Haydar Aliyev.
The minister headed a Russian government delegation which arrived in Baku Sunday to take party in Aliyev’s inauguration ceremony.
According to Ivanov–the government and specifically the foreign ministry along with the Ministry of CIS affairs were committed to the settlement of the Karabakh conflict.
"I believe that such attention from the Russian side gives hope for progress in the peace process," the Russian minister stated.
"We shall find such a solution which will help to restore confidence and to meet the interests of all sides–interested in a settlement," the minister added.
Earlier–the Azeri president pointed to the importance for Russia to step up efforts as a co-chairman of the Minsk OSCE Group on Nagorno-Karabakh at an meeting with the Russian delegation.
Aliyev stressed that a peaceful solution to the conflict must be based on the principles of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and the inviolability of its borders.
He reiterated Baku’s opposition to Nagorno-Karabakh’s secession from Azerbaijan and vowed to liberate what he called occupied Azeri lands.
"We must in any event achieve the liberation of all occupied territories in the country," he said.
In Aliyev’s opinion–participation of Russia in settling the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict has always been important. "It is important now too," he added.
Now that the presidential elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan are over–Aliyev said–there is an opportunity to pool efforts in advancing toward a peaceful settlement of this conflict. In this context–the Azeri president proposed the Russian foreign minister to discuss several specific questions on a settlement of the conflict.
Ivanov and deputy speaker of the Russian State Duma (lower house) Mikhail Gutseriev congratulated Aliyev on his re-election to the post of Azeri head of state on behalf of President Boris Yeltsin and speaker of the lower house Gennadi Selezhnev by reading out congratulatory messages to him at the meeting.
Ivanov–Commonwealth of Independent States Executive Secretary Boris Berezovsky and leaders of Russia’s North Caucasian republics attended the ceremony–where Aliyev took an oath on the constitution and the Koran.