Baku, Moscow extol energy ties

April 20, 2009 at 11:47 AM

MOSCOW, April 20 (UPI) -- Moscow and Baku enjoy strong economic and energy ties that have increased recently despite the global recession, the Azeri president said.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev paid a visit to his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, during the weekend to discuss trade relations and cooperation in the energy sector.

Aliyev told the Itar-Tass news agency that trade between both countries had increased 40 percent, or roughly $3 billion, since last year.

"Despite the (economic) crisis, there is some decline, but it is not as big as it could have been," he said. "The structure of trade turnover has changed very much qualitatively."

He noted Baku has added a gas deal to standard energy agreements with Moscow, calling it "an important element" for ties between the two nations.

The Aliyev visit comes on the heels of a row between Russian gas monopoly Gazprom and Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan has sought damages from Gazprom because of a pipeline rupture that Ashgabat said resulted from a hasty decision to lower gas volumes.

Turkmenistan also awarded the German partner to the Nabucco gas pipeline, RWE AG, an exploration contract in what is seen as a counter to Gazprom.

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