“US welcomes the cooperation it has build with Azerbaijan over a period of more than 20 years. Official Washington wants to continue the strong relations built between the two countries over the years”, said Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State Victoria Nuland as she held a press conference in Baku.Ms. Nuland said that the two countries cooperate in three areas: security, economy-energy and democracy. “We have jointly fought against terrorism and extremism in Afghanistan and Kosovo,” the US official underlined.The Assistant Secretary said she arrived in Azerbaijan together with regional representatives of the US Department of Defense and European Command. “Discussions are underway on joint exercises, training and strengthening of peacekeeping forces,” Nuland noted. The Assistant Secretary of State hailed the work done in the field of energy between the two countries. Nuland noted that there are efforts to implement new projects. “The first joint project between the two countries is the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline”, she added. “We’re working together to realize the Southern Gas Corridor project”, she said stressing the importance of the project not only for Azerbaijan, but all countries whose energy is from single source. “This is a joint project of Europe, Azerbaijan and the United States”, she added.Stressing the importance of dialogue between government and civil society, Nuland said that the establishment of such contacts is very important for the future. The US have supported this kind of dialogues and initiatives between the government and civil society for more than 20 years.Touching upon the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Assistant Secretary expressed concern of increasing tension in the line of contact.Responding the questions about the hostages taken by the Armenian Armed Forces Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev, the official of the State Department said that Armenia should return hostages as a sign of humanitarian gesture. Ms. Nuland said she will raise the issue of release of the hostages during her visit to Armenia.
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