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VoA: Bush and Aliyev Discuss Oil and Democracy

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  • VoA: Bush and Aliyev Discuss Oil and Democracy

    Voice of America
    April 29 2006

    Bush and Aliyev Discuss Oil and Democracy
    By Scott Stearns
    28 April 2006

    Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev (left) with President Bush
    President Bush welcomed the leader of Azerbaijan to the White House
    for talks Friday about democratic reforms and energy supplies.

    The former Soviet republic has substantial oil and natural gas
    reserves that the Bush Administration sees as central to reducing
    European dependence on Russian supplies. Azerbaijan has also been an
    important Muslim ally in the fight against terrorism, with troops in
    Iraq and Afghanistan.

    But the nation also has human rights and governance issues, with the
    U.S. State Department saying President Ilham Aliyev's administration
    engages in corruption, political repression, and mistreatment of

    President Bush sought to address both sides of that relationship in
    his Oval Office meeting with President Aliyev, thanking him for
    supporting U.S. military operations while pushing for further
    democratic reforms at home. "We talked about the need for the world
    to see a modern Muslim country that is able to provide for its
    citizens, that understands that democracy is the wave of the future,
    and I appreciate your leadership, Mr. President," he said.

    President Aliyev has been waiting for this White House meeting since
    his widely criticized 2003 election. He denies allegations of
    corruption and vows to continue reforming Azerbaijani politics. "I
    consider this instrumental in the future development of Azerbaijan as
    a modern, secular, democratic country. We share the same values. We
    are grateful for United States assistance in promotion of political
    process, process of democratization of our society and very committed
    to continue that cooperation in the future," he said.

    Energy was also on the agenda. A 17-hundred-kilometer long pipeline
    from the Caspian Sea through Georgia and Turkey is expected to bring
    millions of barrels of Azerbaijani crude oil to market when it comes
    on line later this year.

    President Bush says Azerbaijan has a very important role to play in
    helping the world achieve energy security.

    President Aliyev thanked the U.S. leader for his support. "We are
    very grateful for the leadership of the United States in promotion of
    the energy security issues in the region, in assisting us to create a
    solid transportation infrastructure which will allow for the
    development of full-scale Caspian oil and gas reserves and deliver
    them to the international markets," he said.

    President Aliyev said the men also discussed the disputed region of
    Nagorno-Karabakh, which has been controlled for more than 10 years by
    its majority ethnic-Armenian population.