A morning meeting between Azerbaidjani President Ilham Aliev and US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage began with a one-on-one meeting, and was later expanded to include other members of the respective sides. As reported by the Azerbaidjani press office to a Rosbalt correspondent, during the second round of talks, Ilham Aliev remarked on the accelerated evolution of bilateral relations in all spheres.
According to Aliev, the United States is assisting Azerbaidjan in its efforts to institute political and economic reforms. He also maintained that the United States would offer similar assistance for the social and economic development of the various regions of the country.
Aliev said that he hoped for the further bilateral cooperation of the two countries in the military sphere. 'Azerbaidjan belongs to the antiterrorism coalition, and will continue to participate in the future,' he said.
Addressing the conflict in Karabakh, Aliev noted that it would be resolved with the participation of the OSCE, and in accordance with the territorial integrity of Azerbaidjan.
Richard Armitage in turn gave high marks to the participation of Azerbaidjani troops in the antiterrorism coalition. In his view, Azerbaidjani soldiers are serving in an exemplary fashion in both Iraq and Afghanistan. 'We want a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Karabakh,' he said. 'The Caucasus can become a good partner for the West in the future, but in order for that to happen, peace has to be established in the region.'
It was notable that many journalists representing independent and opposition media were not allowed to attend the meeting between Armitage and Aliev.
An explosion of household gas occurred in a nine-storeyed apartment building in the city of Shakhty, the Rostov region of Russia. The blast destroyed two storeys of the building