Remarks With Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everybody. I’m really pleased to welcome somebody I’ve had a chance to meet with a number of times elsewhere, but I’m happy to welcome the president of Azerbaijan, President Aliyev. We have a lot of mutual interests that we are currently working on. We’re very grateful to Azerbaijan’s contributions to peacekeeping, their efforts in Afghanistan. Obviously, Azerbaijan is located in a complex region right now and I think President Aliyev has been very studious and thoughtful about how to respond to some of those needs, particularly with his leadership on the Southern Gas Corridor. This is a very important step with respect to Europe’s long-term strategic interests, and frankly, to try to diversify the sourcing of energy, which is important.
We obviously share other interests in counterterrorism. We want to see an ultimate resolution of the frozen conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh that needs to be a negotiated settlement and something that has to be worked on over time.
But right now, I want to thank the president for his presence here for the Nuclear Security Summit and for the many courtesies that he has shown recently as he moves to adjust the economic opportunity for Azerbaijan as well as the security relationship with the region. And delighted to have you here. Thank you.
PRESIDENT ALIYEV: Thank you very much. Mr. Secretary, first of all, I’d like to express my gratitude to President Obama for inviting me to attend the nuclear summit. We consider it as a sign of friendship and partnership. We highly value our bilateral relations. U.S.-Azerbaijan relations have already a long history of 25 years, and these relations always were very close, cordial, and now they are relations of strategic importance.
We have very active political dialogue. As Mr. Secretary already said, we met many times before but first time here in Washington. We have economic cooperation, which is developing. U.S. companies invested more than $10 billion to our economy, which is also a good sign of economic cooperation and good sign of economic development of our country. We jointly implemented such important projects as construction of oil pipelines connecting Caspian and Mediterranean Seas for the first time with the strong support of United States.
And now, as Mr. Secretary mentioned, we are working jointly on Southern Gas Corridor, and the project of energy security, energy diversification, and the long-term benefit to all the participants – producers, (inaudible), consumers. And we are very grateful to the Government of United States for its strong support in implementation of this project. Frankly speaking, without that support, it may have taken much more time and effort to implement the project. We are on track, we’ll be on time, and in two, three years, the Southern Gas Corridor will be in operation.
We are grateful to the U.S. Government for their efforts in finding ways to resolve long-lasting conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We think that the conflict must be resolved based on United Nations Security Council resolution, which demand immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from our territories. The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, all the conflicts in post-Soviet area and in the world, must be resolved based on territorial integrity of the countries.
We’re also close partners on issues related to security in the region. Azerbaijan provides its support, logistical support, in operations in Afghanistan, overflights, land transportation. Also we have almost 100 servicemen serving shoulder to shoulder with NATO servicemen in Afghanistan.
So the agenda of our relations is very broad. Today, of course, we’ll cover these issues as well as regional problematic, and I’m sure the meeting will play important role in further development of our friendly ties. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: No questions. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you all very much. Thank you.
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