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    BAKU FOR REGIONAL COOPERATION, BUT WITHOUT ARMENIA

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    BAKU, February 2, 2004. /RIA Novosti correspondent/ - Azerbaijan considers it necessary and expedient to comprehensively develop regional cooperation, the country's president Ilkham Aliyev has announced.

    The only restriction for Azerbaijan in the Caucasus was cooperation with Armenia, he added. "We advocate regional cooperation and peace in the Caucasus in general. We conduct our policy proceeding from this," Aliyev told RIA Novosti before his departure to Moscow.

    "We advocate regional cooperation, but at the same time we cannot cooperate with Armenia. The reasons for this are occupation of our territory by Armenia that has lasted for over ten years. 20 percent of the territory, Nagorno Karabackh and seven districts beyond it are occupied," he added.

    According to Aliyev, Azerbaijan has the largest number of refugees per capita in the world, one out of eight. "Consequently, until our territory is liberated, there can be no question of full regional cooperation with participation of Armenia," he emphasized.

    "However, outside this issue we have a very good progress in the region, both within the transport corridor and the energy corridor, with Russia, Iran, Turkey and Georgia," the Azerbaijani president said.

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