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Ambassador Richard Morningstar Tells USACC Breakfast Meeting that Azerbaijan is a Top Priority for the U.S. Government

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 23, 2009


Contact: Sevda Ismayilova
Tel: (202) 333-8702
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Washington, D.C. - June 23, 2009 - Ambassador Richard L. Morningstar, the State Department's Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy, this morning told a breakfast meeting at the U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (USACC) that the Caspian region is getting a fresh look from the U.S. government.

"We do think that the southern corridor is tremendously important," Ambassador Morningstar said.

"Nabucco. Italy-Greece-Turkey Interconnector. Both are very important. The Nabucco pipeline is critically important from the standpoint of diversification and strategically in promoting production in Azerbaijan and in Turkmenistan, and in other places as well."

He stressed the importance of the region to America by pointing out that in just a short time on the job he has had "a long telephone call and two meetings with President Aliyev," as well as meetings with Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, Energy Minister Natig Aliyev and other top officials.

"Azerbaijan is in the top list of our priority," Morningstar said.

Ambassador Morningstar briefed the audience on a number of pressing issues, among them Turkish-Armenian border issues, Azerbaijan-Turkish relations and the Shahdeniz gas field. He stressed that it is important for the two countries to reach an agreement. "It is important for Turkey and Azerbaijan reach an agreement, because Azeri gas and Shahdeniz too are an absolute prerequisite to any southern quarter pipelines", he said.

Ambassador Morningstar also shared his views on Turkey-EU relations, the issues Turkmenistan is facing in the region with Russia and China, and the challenges Azerbaijan is facing with Turkey and Turkmenistan. He further added that despite the difficulties, the three countries are constantly bettering the relationships with each other.

Ambassador Morningstar had previously served as Ambassador to the European Union, where he had several dealings with Azerbaijan. He recalled his relationship with the USACC at that time.

"During the time when I was working doing the Caspian work, I remember having good relations with this organization and I look forward to having that now", Ambassador said.

The breakfast meeting with Morningstar was organized by the USACC and sponsored by BP, ENI and ExxonMobil. The event was attended by U.S. private sector representatives, USACC member companies, as well as the representatives of the US and Azerbaijani government.

Richard L. Morningstar was appointed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and was sworn in on April 6, 2009. Prior to his appointment, Ambassador Morningstar lectured at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and at Stanford Law School. He has also taught at Brown University and Boston College Law School. In October 2001 he was named Senior Director at Stonebridge International LLC, an international strategy firm.

The US - Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (USACC) is a nonprofit, Washington, D.C. based organization that seeks to promote trade and investments between the United States and Azerbaijan by rendering various business services. The USACC actively seeks U.S. and international investments and companies whose products and strategic interests can be advanced in the Azerbaijani market. It also serves as a liaison between foreign companies and Azerbaijani businesses and government officials. To learn more about the USACC, please visit http://www.usacc.org

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