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Experts to visit Gabala radar station next week

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Azerbaijani-Russian-U.S. consultations on the joint use of the Gabala radar station that Russia leases from Azerbaijan will be held within a week, a spokesman for Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.
BAKU, September 12 (RIA Novosti) - Azerbaijani-Russian-U.S. consultations on the joint use of the Gabala radar station that Russia leases from Azerbaijan will be held within a week, a spokesman for Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

"The meeting has been put off several times, for technical reasons, but it will take place soon, possibly next week," Khazar Ibragim said.

He said Russian, U.S. and Azerbaijani delegations will include both technical experts and diplomatic officials, adding that the Azerbaijani team will be led by Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov.

Asked about Iran's possible reaction to the tripartite meeting, he said: "We would like any regional initiative, especially if it applies to Azerbaijan, to contribute to regional peace and security."

The Russian ambassador to Baku said Monday Azerbaijani, U.S. and Russian experts could meet September 18.

"Experts from the General Staff, the Space Forces and the Foreign Ministry will take part in the consultations from Russia. The delegation will comprise seven or eight people," Vasily Istratov told reporters.

The United States said in January it was planning to deploy components of its global antimissile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland to avert possible strikes from "rogue states," such as Iran and North Korea.

But Russia, already unnerved by NATO expansion to former Warsaw Pact member states, has condemned the plans as a threat to national security and a destabilizing factor for Europe. Moscow warned that its response would be commensurate and effective.

At the G8 summit in June, President Vladimir Putin offered the U.S. the use of the Gabala radar station as a compromise solution in the ongoing dispute. The radar, located near the town of Minchegaur, 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the capital Baku, was leased to Russia for 10 years in 2002.

The radar station has been operational since early 1985. With a range of 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles), it is the most powerful in the region and can detect any missile launches in Asia, the Middle East and parts of Africa.

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