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Azerbaijan's New President Holds Talks in Moscow - 2004-02-05

Azerbaijan's newly elected president, Ilkam Aliyev, is visiting Moscow for three days of talks ranging from problems in the Nagorno-Karabakh region to trade.

Azeri officials said high on Mr. Aliyev's agenda will be a request for Russia's help in resolving a conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Ethnic Armenians from the mountainous enclave control 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory seized during a war that ended with a cease-fire agreement a decade ago.

Russia, along with the United States and France, co-chairs the so called Minsk Group of countries charged with the task of helping mediate an agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed territory.

The United States regards Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan.

The Azeri president is also expected to leave Moscow with a sheaf of agreements aimed at expanding trade and increasing cooperation in combating smuggling and international terrorism.

The two leaders are also expected to discuss the continuing violence in Chechnya and the effect this is having on the entire Caucasus Mountain region.

Although he had lived in Moscow for years, this is the first time the 41-year-old Mr. Aliyev is coming as head of Azerbaijan. He succeeded his father as president last October.

The election of the younger Aliyev sparked violent protests in the streets of Baku by opponents who called the balloting rigged. The elder Aliyev, who died in December, had ruled Azerbaijan for nearly three decades.