Azerbaijan, Belarus keen to boost military ties

Azartac news agency, Baku
29 Aug 04

Azartac reports that Azerbaijan's Defence Minister Col-Gen Safar
Abiyev paid a business visit to the Belarusian capital of Minsk on
27-28 August at the invitation of his Belarusian counterpart Col-Gen
Leanid Maltsaw.

According to the [Azerbaijani] Defence Ministry's press office,
Maltsaw received Abiyev and his delegation at the Belarusian Defence
Ministry on 27 August. The ministers first met privately and then
in a larger format.

Col-Gen Maltsaw said that it was the first time that the two defence
ministers met to establish cooperation. We are very interested in
cooperation with the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry. The Belarusian
political leadership also supports this, Maltsaw said.

Col-Gen Abiyev thanked Maltsaw for the warm reception and said that
until now the two defence ministers had met only within the framework
of the Council of the CIS Defence Ministers. The time has come to
turn to cooperation between the two countries. I believe that the
armed forces of both countries will benefit from such cooperation,
Abiyev said.

Col-Gen Abiyev spoke about the current military and political
situation in the South Caucasus region, Armenia's aggressive policy
against Azerbaijan and the ramifications of [the Nagornyy Karabakh]
conflict. He said that Azerbaijan does not want war, but is being
provoked into it.

The Belarusian minister expressed regret at seeing that the
Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is still unresolved. He said that the
conflict should be resolved in line with the UN principles and norms
of international law.

The defence ministers broadly discussed Azerbaijani-Belarusian
military cooperation and defined its main directions. They decided
to cooperate in the fields of military technology, joint military
scientific studies and training of officers, among others.

Col-Gen Abiyev said: "Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev supports
military cooperation with the Republic of Belarus. I invite you to pay
an official visit to Azerbaijan. The text of an agreement on military
cooperation between the two defence ministries will be ready before
your visit to Baku and we will sign it."

Col-Gen Maltsaw accepted the invitation.

During the meeting, Abiyev familiarized himself with the military
academy of the Republic of Belarus, the Belarusian National Technical
University and several defence plants and their products.

The defence ministers met for the second time on 28 August and decided
to turn from talks to practicalities of Azerbaijani-Belarussian
military cooperation.

The Azerbaijani delegation returned home on 28 August.