Speech by Heydar Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan at the meeting with US State Secretary Madeleine Albright - Washington, Blair House Residence, August 1, 1997

Dear Mme Albright!

First of all, I must say that I am very pleased with the course of my first ever official visit to the USA upon the invitation of President Bill Clinton and I express my gratitude to you for high hospitality, attention and respect showed to me everywhere.

I thank you for high appreciation of positive changes underway in Azerbaijan and pleasant words about our country.

I declare that finding of independence by Azerbaijan at the end of the XX century is the historical achievement of our people and I will do my best for the protection, eternity and steadfastness of this independence. Azerbaijan will adhere to the democracy in future, too.

The people of Azerbaijan pins great hopes to the United States of America and its activity within OSCE Minsk Group for peaceful solution of Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, liberation of occupied territories and return of more than one million of Azerbaijani refugees to their homelands. Highly appreciating the resolution signed in Denver by the presidents of USA, Russia and France I hope that this conflict will be settled in a peaceful way.

Stating about my full approval of efforts taken by US Government for abrogation of the unjust amendment to the 907th Section of the Freedom Support Act adopted against Azerbaijan I would like to inform you that I held detailed negotiations with Congress leadership and members. During these negotiations, they said me that amendment to the 907th Section of the Freedom Support Act, adopted in 1992 was spawned by unjust position created artificially by Armenian lobby in regard of Azerbaijan and its actual implementation against Azerbaijan is not admissible.

Opening of its abundant energy sources at the Caspian basin to the world at the end of XX century by Azerbaijan that commenced the oil exploitation in Caspian Sea fifty years ago was stipulated, doubtlessly, by its desire to get integrated to the world community more closely. I should emphasize that American companies play a special role in joint business with foreign companies for backing of Azerbaijan economy, joint exploration of oil and gas fields and transport of oil to the world market. I am sure that this mutually beneficial cooperation will be developed in future.

I thank you once again for pleasant words about Azerbaijan Republic, our people and me. I hope that personal friendship attitudes appeared between me and President Bill Clinton, as well as with you will play an important role in establishment of closer and warmer relationships between our countries.