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Sergei Lavrov is to discuss the problem of the Nagorny Karabakh settlement during his visit to Azerbaijan on February 1-2
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is to discuss the problem of the Nagorny Karabakh settlement during his visit to Azerbaijan on February 1-2, the information and press department of the Russian Foreign Ministry reported. "Russia hails further Azeri-Armenian dialogue at different levels, above all, between the two countries' presidents," the department stressed. Moscow believes that "the conflicting sides should achieve mutual understanding to settle the old conflict." "Russia is ready to render them active assistance at the bilateral level and as the cochairman of the OSCE Minsk Group and to act as the guarantor of the agreement achieved," the Russian Foreign Ministry assured. The forthcoming Russian-Azeri talks will also focus on the development of anti-terrorist interaction and economic cooperation, in particular, in the fuel and energy sphere. Moreover, the sides will discuss the legal status of the Caspian Sea and prospects to hold the second summit of the five Caspian states (Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Iran). [The first summit was held in Turkmenistan's capital Ashkhabad in April 2002 and ended with a zero result. Tehran was expected to be the venue of the second summit in January 2005. However, according to Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev, the event was postponed because the sides have serious problems in connection with their different approaches to the legal status of the Caspian Sea.] Relations with Azerbaijan have recently become "strategic partnership and are characterized by positive development dynamics," the Foreign Ministry noted. "It is symbolic that Sergei Lavrov's first official visit to Baku is held in the beginning of 2005, Azerbaijan's Year in Russia," the Foreign Ministry said.
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