State Department : US-Azerbaijani relationship becomes wider and deeper (UPDATE)

State Department : US-Azerbaijani relationship becomes wider and deeper  (UPDATE)

Details added, first version posted at 14:38

Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct.15/ Trend, V.Zhavoronkova /

US-Azerbaijani relationship becomes wider and deeper, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Eric Rubin said during a press conference in Baku on Monday.

Rubin said that the US supports democratic development in Azerbaijan and the US are committed to continue this support.

"Opening of Khankendi airport should be settled diplomatically," Rubin said.

"The U.S is the one of OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries, and we strongly support the efforts of the Minsk group. The co-chairs made a statement concerning the issue of Khankendi airport opening. This is important for all delicate issues to be settled diplomatically through negotiations," he said.

"Such kind of things make a step back in negotiation process and could make it harder to achieve progress of a negotiating process. We share the co-chairmen's view, the questions like this should be settled diplomatically," Rubin said.

According to him, the meeting of presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia are often organized by the Minsk group. But we obviously believe it would be helpful for the leaders to meet, this is something that has to be agreed by the both countries and the co-chairs.

Commissioning the airport in Khankendi is an open violation of the Convention on International Civil Aviation.

Azerbaijan has banned the use of the airspace of Nagorno-Karabakh occupied by Armenia, as no one can guarantee a safe air corridor in the area, the head of the Azerbaijani Civil Aviation Administration, Arif Mammadov said earlier.

He said Armenia's steps directed towards the operation of the airport in Khankendi are attempts to violate international legal norms. This air space belongs to Azerbaijan, so its use by Armenia is impossible.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the European Civil Aviation Conference (ICAC) also support the position of Azerbaijan on this issue.

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.

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