BAKU (Combined Sources)—US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Tina Kaidanow was in Baku Friday where she sought to reassure Azerbaijan’s leadership of her government’s continued commitment to deepen ties with Azerbaijan and reach a speedy solution for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Azeri Today.az news portal reported.
Kaidanow met separately with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov following a similar round of meetings with their Armenian counterparts earlier on Tuesday.
“The U.S. administration places great importance to cooperation with Azerbaijan and is interested in its further development,” Kaidanow was quoted as saying by Today.az. “The U.S. is ready to contribute to the speedy settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group.”
This is Kaidanow’s first visit to Azerbaijan since taking her post in August.
In talks with Kaidanow, Mammadyarov stressed his government’s position that regional peace and stability will not exist until the Nagorno-Karabakh republic is resolved in Azerbaijan’s favor.
The opening of communication for consistent peace and stability in the region requires the Armenian armed forces to withdraw from the occupied Azerbaijani territories,” Mammadyarov said, referring to the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, a former Soviet autonomous region which declared independence from Moscow and Baku’s rule in the early 90s.
The Azeri Foreign Minister also sought to link the Karabakh conflict with the Armenia-Turkey negotiations process, saying that the “normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations and the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are closely interrelated processes and the advances should be achieved in parallel in both issues.”
Kaidanow also met with representatives of nongovernmental organizations in Baku, RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service reported.
Baku-based political observer Hikmet Gadjizade told RFE/RL that at the meeting with NGOs on October 23 Kaidanow discussed democratization, human rights, and freedom of speech and the media, as well as the case of the detained Azerbaijani bloggers.
According to Gadjizade, Kaidanow stressed at the meeting that Washington is monitoring the democratization process and will be assisting with any problems.