WASHINGTON—U.S.-Azeri strategic relations were discussed Tuesday as Azeri Defense Minister Safar Abiyev visited the United States.
Minister Abiyev, speaking at a meeting with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in Washington, complained that Armenia has remained in control of Nagorno Karabakh for 20 years.
“However, unfortunately, international organizations and leading countries have not yet declared Armenia as an invading country,” he said.
Abiyev also cited his country’s discontent with the existence of Section 907, arguing that it runs counter to the U.S. foreign policy. Section 907 to the Freedom Support Act, which was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1992, bans direct aid to the Azerbaijani government. In October of 2001, the Senate granted the U.S. President the powers to waive Section 907. That waiver has been used every year since 2002.
Abiyev added that if the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is not resolved and the Azerbaijani territories are not freed, the region will continue to face a difficult military situation.
Secretary Hagel said he will make further efforts for the development and strengthening of strategic cooperation between the two countries. The ministers discussed military cooperation.
He thanked Abiyev for his country’s support of the international efforts in Afghanistan, where Azeri forces take part in fighting against the same mujahideen forces that twenty years ago aided them in the Karabakh war.
Hagel spoke positively about the development of cooperation under a number of programs in the field of defense between the U.S. and Azerbaijan.
Abiyev said that Azerbaijan will continue to contribute to the operations in Afghanistan after 2014, noting that this willingness was supported by NATO.
Abiyev noted the work done by Azerbaijan in the context of Euro-Atlantic security and said that energy, transport, communications and other regional projects undertaken in this area have turned into an important factor in the development of strategic cooperation.
After the meeting, Hagel asked the minister to convey his greetings to the President of Azerbaijan. Abiyev, in turn, invited his US counterpart to pay an official visit to Azerbaijan, and Hagel accepted the invitation.
The Azerbaijani Defense Minister, who is on a visit to Washington at the invitation of American colleagues, laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arlington cemetery prior to the talks at the Pentagon.