[May 31, 2005, 22:34:47]

AzerTag, Azerbaijan
May 31 2005

Visiting delegation of Astrakhan oblast of the Russian Federation
led by Governor Alexander Zhilkin was received by Prime Minister of
Azerbaijan Artur Rasizade, May 31.

The Governor concrete offers on expanding ties with Azerbaijan in
the spheres of ships building and repair, transport, production of
bio-resources in the Caspian, trade of vegetables and fruits. The
North Caucasus Shipping Company is ready to open ferry connection
with Baku, while the Astrakhan side is able to provide delivery of
goods from Azerbaijan to all destinations in Russia, he said.

Prime Minister Artur Rasizade told of the successful economic reforms
implemented in Azerbaijan, yearly growth of the country's GDP and the
work being done to improve people's welfare. He also touched upon the
Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, which according to
the Minister seriously impedes economic progress. Problems of almost
million refugees are what the Government must solve first of all,
he said. Mr. Rasizade expressed readiness of Azerbaijan for close
mutually beneficial cooperation with Astrakhan oblast of Russia.

The parties have also discussed a number of other issues of mutual