AJC Delegation Meets Azerbaijan President, Foreign Minister in Baku

Jul 19, 2012, 10:01 ET from American Jewish Committee

BAKU, Azerbaijan, July 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An AJC delegation concluded a two-day visit to Baku, Azerbaijan. This was the global Jewish agency's third visit to the nation since 2008 and fourth meeting with President Ilham Aliyev.

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In addition to the hour-long session with the President at his dacha, the delegation was also received by Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov; Chair of the State Committee on Diaspora Affairs Nazim Ibrahimov; Israeli Ambassador Michael Lavon-Lotem; U.S. Charge d'Affaires Adam Sterling; Military Adviser to the President Wahid Aliyev; and a top official of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR).

The oil-rich Caspian country is a predominately Shiite Muslim country, although staunchly secular and pluralistic in its identity. The Jewish community of Azerbaijan is an integral part of the nation's cultural fabric and has lived largely free of anti-Semitism.

Azerbaijan is also a critical geopolitical partner of the United States and enjoys warm relations with Israel.

Not only does Azerbaijan share a 600-kilometer border with neighboring Iran, but it also serves as a key transportation hub for goods destined for U.S. and NATO servicemen and women in Afghanistan.

"Unless and until you visit Azerbaijan and see the country first-hand, you cannot imagine the complexity and strategic importance of this nation -- to the U.S., to Europe, and yes, to the State of Israel," explained AJC Executive Director David Harris. "Sandwiched throughout much of its history between the Persian, Ottoman and Russian empires, the independence, development and dynamism we witnessed in Baku is truly something to behold."

The AJC delegation's visit to Baku followed a three-day visit to Israel and meetings there with senior officials.

SOURCE American Jewish Committee