Azerbaijan, Baku, Dec. 4 / Trend K. Zarbaliyeva /
Chairman of the Azerbaijani State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations Elshad Iskandarov is on a visit to the U.S as part of an exchange programme, organised by the State Department of the country, the committee told Trend today.
Meetings are planned to be held in the State Department and the U.S. Congress, with the U.S. Special Envoy to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), as well as representatives of U.S. and religious community 'think tanks' in Washington within the programme.
The main purpose of the visit is to discuss the potential of cooperation growth. Moreover, the meetings will focus on such topics as cooperation in combating extremism on religious grounds, the Azerbaijani model of religious tolerance and the state of religious monuments in the Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenia.
The workshop, to be organised by the Jamestown Foundation on December 5, has invited Iskandarov to act as keynote speaker on 'Mutual respect and dialogue between different religions in Azerbaijan'.
Commenting on the points regarding violations of freedom of religion in Azerbaijan, which were contained in the U.S. State Department's annual report on 'Religious Freedom in the World', he explained this by using the narrowness of U.S. information sources. He stressed that the work will be undertaken with U.S colleagues in this area.
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.