Rumsfeld Thanks Azerbaijan for Terror War Support
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 14, 2004 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld thanked Azerbaijan for "important support in the global war on terrorism" during an Aug. 13 press conference in Baku, the capital city.
The secretary said that Azerbaijan was one of the first countries to offer support after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. He said the southwestern Asia country provided valuable access and overflight rights for coalition aircraft, and sent peacekeepers to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Rumsfeld had met earlier with Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliev and Defense Minister Gen. Col. Safar Abiyev to discuss bilateral defense cooperation between the two countries. That cooperation, he said, includes Azerbaijan helping "to guard against transnational threats in the Caspian Sea, such as narcotics trafficking, terrorist transit and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."
Rumsfeld also pointed out that Azeri troops are currently deployed in both Afghanistan and Iraq and working closely with coalition forces there. He said he and the country's leaders discussed the U.N.'s assistance with Iraq's upcoming elections. He noted that the "United Nations is soliciting assistance from countries around the world to provide security forces to assist" with Iraqi elections.
The secretary also applauded Azerbaijan's efforts in working closely with the NATO Partnership for Peace effort.
Rumsfeld told reporters that the American people "greatly appreciate the steadfast support of Azerbaijan in the global war on terror, and we look forward to continuing to strengthen our military cooperation in the period ahead."