WASHINGTON, April 18, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) hosted Azerbaijan's Ambassador Elin Suleymanov on April 12 to discuss the DTRA's Cooperative Threat Reduction work with Azerbaijan. Following the meeting, DTRA Director Kenneth A. Myers spoke to American Forces Press Service. "[Azerbaijan] has some very difficult and unique security challenges and some of the things we do here could be of help and additional opportunities for partnership," said Mr. Myers. He added that the ongoing work on the central reference lab is the result of a unique relationship between the United States and Azerbaijan. "It's a real model for the future," the DTRA director said. "We're there to provide some technical expertise and they're providing the funding for the construction. It's a true partnership … and an opportunity to take an important step forward on biological issues and pathogens…Our relationship with Azerbaijan on these projects is very good, [and] we have a long record of success."
Ambassador Suleymanov emphasized the importance of the U.S. – Azerbaijan defense cooperation. "Azerbaijan is a strong supporter of the nonproliferation issue. My government's commitment to nonproliferation is absolute and unshakeable. What we need to do is work with the Americans, but of course with the international community as well, to make sure that no weapons of mass destruction find their way, simply put, to where they shouldn't be," stated Suleymanov. A key factor in nonproliferation, Suleymanov said, is to make sure that no dangerous materials "become available to destructive forces, be it some states or be it nonstate actors." U.S. defense cooperation with Azerbaijan also includes support to Azerbaijan's efforts to reform its defense institutions, furthering NATO interoperability and contributions to international missions, and promoting shared objectives in counterproliferation, counterterrorism and maritime security.
U.S. support to developing Azerbaijan's defense and security institutions includes training and advising in civil-military relations, professional military education, and emergency management, according to a DOD fact sheet.
The United States helps to develop NATO interoperable units in Azerbaijan, including its Peacekeeping Battalion, which has deployed forces in support of international operations in Kosovo and Iraq, and now fields 94 troops in Afghanistan under the International Security Assistance Force.
Azerbaijan also provides ground, air and Caspian Sea transit access to sustain international efforts in Afghanistan. Azerbaijan is one part of a complex network of supply lines that play an important role in diversifying those lines.
In the U.S. security relationship with Azerbaijan, a stand-out project is an interagency effort to increase Azerbaijan's capability to address transnational threats like smuggling and terrorism, and protect its maritime interests and energy infrastructure in the Caspian Sea.
"We have worked very closely with regional partners and with the United States on the nonproliferation issue along our maritime and land borders," Suleymanov said, highlighting detection equipment in Azerbaijani airports and at border crossings, funding to support Azerbaijan's naval and coast guard capabilities, and cooperation on energy infrastructure protection. "We're very proud with this success story and the fact that today in Baku, the Azerbaijani government has basically assumed leadership for [the laboratory]," Suleymanov said. "That speaks not only of successful cooperation as a biological [facility], but also the strong element of capacity building for the Azerbaijani side, which is what we want."
"Azerbaijan is no longer just a consumer of security," he added, "it's now a provider of security and an equal partner in that."
"Azerbaijan is a nonpermanent member of the United Nations Security Council," the ambassador said, "so those kinds of global issues we face on a daily basis and we deal with them along with the United States and other partners, trying to minimize potential damage by biological weapons."
For the full text of the article published by the American Forces Press Service please visit: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=119789
Embassy of Azerbaijan to the United States
SOURCE Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the United States