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Relations Between U.S. and Azerbaijan Strong, Ambassador Says

The relations between the U.S. and Azerbaijan are strong, the 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 U.S. and Azerbaijan."

Morningstar made 20 visits to the country prior to becoming the 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 the two countries, Morningstar noted that there's room for improvement. "Our priority is to get more U.S. companies involved in Azerbaijan not only in the oil and gas sector, but also in other sectors like telecommunication and the whole spheres of economy," the ambassador stressed.

Referring to the pardon of an Azerbaijani military officer in the murder of an Armenian officer, Morningstar said he stands behind the statements of the U.S. Department of State: "My concern is that it does not contribute to decreasing the tension in the region," he said. "We hope that we can continue the constructive process on Nagorno-Karabakh."

The ambassador mentioned how important it is 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 added.

Ramil Safarov, an Azerbaijani officer, who was charged with murdering the Armenian officer Gurgen Margaryan, returned to Azerbaijan on August 31st. The same day, under an order of the head of state, he was pardoned.

Safarov, 34, original of the Jabrail region of Azerbaijan, participated in NATO exercises in Hungary in 2004, when was charged with the murder of Armenian officer Gurgen Margaryan, who insulted the Azerbaijani flag. A Budapest court sentenced Safarov to 30 years of imprisonment without the right of pardon.

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent 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.

Source: Trend.az

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