Azerbaijan to ship oil to Russia and Iran

Sept. 25, 2008 at 4:24 PM
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BAKU, Azerbaijan, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- In a possible geopolitical shift, Azerbaijan in the wake of the Georgian conflict said it would offer more oil to Iran and Russia, officials said.

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney visited Baku Sept. 3 to meet with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev following a tense diplomatic situation in the Caucasus as Russia and Georgia fought over the breakaway republic of South Ossetia.

Azerbaijan has enjoyed warm relations with the United States following the collapse of the former Soviet Union. Aliyev described diplomatic ties with Washington, largely centered on energy issues, as "a real success story" during the Cheney meeting.

Baku, however, has decided to ship some of its oil through Russia and Iran in an effort to maintain its interests in the region under control, The Financial Times said Thursday.

"We don't want to insult anyone … but it's not good to have all your eggs in one basket, especially when the basket is very fragile," said State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan Republic Vice President Elhar Nasirov.

The Azeri government did not voice its condemnation of Russia for its military action in Georgia, along with its Western allies, even though the conflict disrupted the flow of natural resources through many pipeline arteries in the region.

"We are trying to be friends with everybody, at the same time as acting in accordance with our national interests," said Azeri Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov.

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