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Azerbaijan Shows Off Military Might


Azerbaijan staged its first military parade in 16 years Thursday to mark the anniversary of the founding of the country's armed forces.

Tanks and armored personnel carriers rolled through the streets of Baku as military aircraft flew overhead in what news agencies described as a show of force aimed partly at neighboring Armenia.

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev told participants the Azerbaijani people are tired of negotiations with Armenia over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. He said the talks cannot go on forever.

Mr. Aliyev said Azerbaijan continues to live in a state of war due to the unresolved conflict.

The Azerbaijani leader said the country's annual defense spending has risen to more than $2 billion, 10 times what it was in 2003, and will continue to increase.

The two countries fought a six-year conflict after residents of the largely-Armenian-inhabited Nagorno-Karabakh region declared independence in 1988. A 1994 cease-fire halted the most serious fighting, though sporadic exchanges of gunfire continue. The conflict has claimed 35,000 lives.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.