Ambassador: Relations between U.S. and Azerbaijan strong
Azerbaijan, Baku, Sept. 10 / Trend E.Mehdiyev /
The relations between the U.S. and Azerbaijan are strong, U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Richard Morningstar told reporters in Baku.
"We work together on issues like regional stability, energy security, democracy, human rights, counter-terrorism," Morningstar said. "My goal is to further enhance the relationships between the US and Azerbaijan."
He said he has made 20 visits to Azerbaijan before coming as an ambassador to Azerbaijan. "I have been very busy since my arrival. I had an opportunity to meet with other officials of Azerbaijan including Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov," the diplomat said.
As for the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and the U.S., Morningstar noted that it is good, but it can be better. "Our priority is to get more U.S. companies involved in Azerbaijan not only in oil and gas sector, but also in other sectors like telecommunication and the whole spheres of economy," the ambassador stressed.
Answering the question on Ramil Safarov's pardon Morningstar said he stands behind the statements of the US Department of State. "My concern is that it does not contribute to decreasing the tension in the region," Richard Morningstar said. "We hope that we can continue the constructive process on Nagorno-Karabakh."
Morningstar said it is important that Azerbaijan and Armenia continue working through the OSCE Minsk Group to find solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. "As a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, the U.S. will work with other co-chairs, Azerbaijan and Armenia in this regard," he said.
Azerbaijani officer Ramil Safarov, who was convicted in Hungary, returned to Azerbaijan on Aug. 31. The same day, under an order of the head of state, he was pardoned.
Ramil Safarov was born on August 25, 1977 in the Jabrail region of Azerbaijan. Safarov 34, who participated in NATO exercises in 2004 in Hungary, was charged with the murder of Armenian officer Gurgen Margaryan, who insulted the Azerbaijani flag. As the result of the verdict by the Budapest court, Safarov was sentenced to life imprisonment without the right of pardon during 30 years.
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 U.S. - 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.