President Haidar Aliev told Russia’s acting Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Rybkin in Baku that Azerbaijan "strongly objects" to the presence of Russian military bases in Armenia and Georgia. Aliev remonstrated also against Moscow’s refusal to extradite Azerbaijan’s former chief-of-staff, Major General Shahin Musaev, as well as other suspected plotters. The Azerbaijani president expressed astonishment that his official messages to Russian President Boris Yeltsin "often remain unanswered."
Azerbaijan "does not intend to wait for Russian permission to use its own natural resources," Aliev went on. He summed up Moscow’s attitude: "Signing oil deals with the West is normal for Russia, but not allowed to Azerbaijan." "We are not serfs," Aliev concluded his remarks to Rybkin.
Just before receiving Rybkin, Aliev had held talks with Washington officials. With U.S. Admiral Joseph Lopez and Senator John Warner, he discussed security cooperation. With a delegation of the U.S. House of Representatives, he discussed economic cooperation. Azerbaijan’s Defense Minister Safar Abiev also spoke with Lopez and Warner, on the enlargement of Azerbaijan’s participation in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. Aliev and Abiev both reaffirmed that Azerbaijan has no objection to NATO’s eastward enlargement — a position in contrast to Moscow’s. (Turan, Itar-Tass and other Russian agencies, April 9 and 10)
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