US Has Fruitful Relations with Azerbaijani President: Dan Fried
The Bush administration has fruitful relations with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, a senior U.S. official told Congress on Wednesday, ИТАР-ТАСС reports.
Addressing the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried said that Washington welcomes progress achieved together with Azerbaijan over the past few years in some issues, dealing with cooperation in security and diversification of energy supplies".
"We appraise Azerbaijan's decision to dispatch 150 military to Iraq and 45 to Afghanistan, as well as President Aliyev's promise to double his country's contingent in Afghanistan, Fried said. Moreover, Azerbaijan made contribution within the NATO peacekeeping forces in Kosovo... We are also grateful to Azerbaijan for its offer to use its air space in support of armed operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This cooperation is developing simultaneously with advancing Azerbaijan's relations with NATO... Azerbaijan also took decisive steps in fighting with terror".
With respect to energy sector, Fried said that Baku "becomes one of the alternative sources for gas supply". "Azerbaijani gas can open a way to establish a new network of pipelines, enabling the market but not monopoly to define gas prices, he said. Consolidating its role of crude supplier, Azerbaijan simultaneously keeps its constructive relations with Russia and other neighbors in the eastern coast of the Caspian Sea and Georgia."
Fried also stressed that the Azerbaijani economy was 'the rapidly growing one in the world over the past three years". "The Government took first steps to improve the entrepreneurship activities, he said. - However, the business and investment climate is tough and much should be done to attract foreign investors to spheres not related to energy resources".
Fried said that the United States is concerned on slow speed of democratic reforms in Azerbaijan. "We are particularly concerned on the freedom of media situation, he said. Furthermore, we are also concerned on restrictions related to observation of freedom of assembly... We hope that Azerbaijan will use the forthcoming presidential elections in October to demonstrate the essential progress in the consolidation of democracy."
" Azerbaijan has opportunities to intensify its economic and political development, to consolidate successes in the establishment of favorable relations in the region, as well as solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute," Fried said.