Obama to meet Ilham Aliyev

Tue 21 Sep 2010 01:50 GMT | 05:50 Local Time

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US President Barack Obama will meet Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Friday, US Assistant Adviser on National Security Ben Rhodes told reporters.

The meeting will take place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Reuters reported.

The presidents are expected to discuss Afghanistan, amongst other issues, Rhodes told a press conference yesterday.

Later in the day, Barack Obama will meet Kyrgyzstan's interim president, Roza Otunbayeva.

Azerbaijan is an important link in the global air and ground supply chain for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan and for Afghan construction projects.

A small Azerbaijani contingent serves with ISAF.

Azerbaijan's role in supplying troops in Afghanistan topped the agenda of US Defence Secretary Robert Gates' trip to Baku in June.

Azerbaijani-US relations have been rocky in recent months for a combination of reasons.

Baku has accused Washington of a pro-Armenian position in the Karabakh peace process, while financial support from the US Congress for separatist Nagorno-Karabakh is a cause of concern in Baku.

Azerbaijan felt snubbed when President Aliyev was not invited to a Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in April, when Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan were both present.

Meanwhile, the position of US ambassador to Azerbaijan has been vacant for over a year, which has not helped relations.




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