Azerbaijan, Baku, June 7 / Trend, S.Aghayeva /
U.S. Secretary of State's second visit to Azerbaijan in the last two years is an indicator of important and close cooperation, as well as partnership between the two countries, Head of the Foreign Relations Department of the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration Novruz Mammadov told Trend on Thursday. He was commenting on an outcome of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Azerbaijan.
"Although Clinton's visit was of a regional character, it confirmed that the U.S. attaches special importance to cooperation with Azerbaijan, these relations are of strategic character and that the U.S. is satisfied with efficient cooperation with Azerbaijan," Mammadov said.
He underscored that negotiations between Azerbaijani President and the U.S. Secretary of State took longer than scheduled. Official part of negotiations, as well as talks held during the lunch, lasted over two hours.
"During these negotiations, wide exchange of views was carried out on the current state of cooperation, its important aspects and future potential. Clinton said the U.S. attaches great importance to cooperation with Azerbaijan," Mammadov said.
With regard to relations between Azerbaijan and the United States, Mammadov said that a number of meetings and negotiations of specific importance have been held since early year between the two countries. Azerbaijani President has taken an active part in each of the summits held under the leadership of the President of the United States - summit on nuclear security in Seoul and NATO summit in Chicago.
At the same time general activity of the country as a member and chairman of the UN Security Council in New York in May demonstrated the presence of great authority not only in the region, but in the world, although Azerbaijan is a very small state.
"In addition, letters which during this period President Aliyev received from U.S. President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other U.S. officials, which indicated presence of close and lasting partnership, and Clinton's visit to Azerbaijan can be regarded as a logical continuation," Mammadov said.
He underscored that since Azerbaijan is situated in a very important region, the United States will significantly benefit from this cooperation, and when making important decisions Washington considers Azerbaijan's participation logical.
"I really appreciate these negotiations and believe that our relations with the U.S. will continue. This visit will contribute to this process," Mammadov underlined.
He said of course, the main important issue discussed during the negotiations was the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
"Each of the two sides voiced their position on this problem. President Aliyev said he attaches great importance to cooperation with the United States and appreciates the development of these relations in all directions. In addition, Azerbaijan expects the U.S. to play an important role in resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within fair and international legal norms. Of course, Azerbaijani President noted with regret that although Baku's steps within negotiation process ongoing over these years have always been aimed at resolving the conflict peacefully and through negotiations, every time the Armenian side is busy with delaying the negotiation process by making cunning plans, and taking insidious steps," Mammadov said.
The U.S. President, as well as other heads of states of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs [Russian and France], made statements based on these negotiations, took an important decision in L'Aquila, and one of the main provisions of their decision confirms the preservation of the current status quo is unacceptable, Mammadov said.
"However, these statements are still ineffective and Azerbaijani President stated his regret over it. Clinton held negotiations on this matter when she was in Armenia. Following the negotiations in Baku she will hold talks on this matter in Turkey as well. I came to the conclusion that the U.S. wants to be more actively involved in this process. For this reason, carefully listening to Azerbaijani President's position, she [Clinton] stated the need to seek new approaches to resolve the conflict. It is difficult to say what these approaches will be, but if steps taken so far have not yielded any result, it means that there should be new demands and approaches," Mammadov said.
He underscored that this approach is that the highest status can be given to Nagorno-Karabakh within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, but the current status quo must be changed.
"The co-chair of the United States in the OSCE Minsk Group Robert Bradtke also attended the meetings. I think that the Secretary of State discussed this position with him as well, and, probably, he will make a statement about what the new approaches will be," Mammadov.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 per cent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994.
The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France and the US - are currently holding peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.
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