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    VLADIMIR PUTIN ON HIGH LEVEL OF RUSSIAN-AZERI RELATIONS

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    MOSCOW, February 6, 2004. (RIA Novosti) -- Russian-Azeri relations have reached the highest level of their development in the recent years, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the extended talks with his Azeri counterpart Ilkham Aliyev in the Kremlin.

    "We hope that in spite of all difficulties in the post-Soviet space and the region, we shall overcome them by join efforts," the Russian leader said.

    Moreover, we have good traditions of friendship, he added. Vladimir Putin pointed out the contribution of Ilkham Aliyev's father Geidar into the development of these traditions.

    "Geidar Aliyev did a lot in this sphere. He was highly esteemed in our country. He was a world-class politician," Vladimir Putin said.

    On his part, the Azeri President highly assessed the development of these relations "covering all spheres in the life of our countries".

    "Geidar Aliyev and you laid down a solid foundation for the development of our relations," Ilkham Aliyev noted. In his opinion, the political dialogue and top-level consultations on world, regional and bilateral problems "are priority aspects in our talks".

    "We can rejoice at our political and economic successes," Aliyev noted. "The trade turnover growth is the most reliable indicator of successful development of trade and economic relations," he added.

    According to Ilkham Aliyev, Azeris respect the Russian language and culture. None of 400 Russian language schools in Azerbaijan was closed.

    "This contributes to Russian-Azeri rapprochement," Azerbaijan's President said.

    Baku comes out for rapid development of Russia and Azerbaijan and coordination of their activities, Aliev stressed. It will bring our countries and people together, he added.

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