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Merz welcomes Azeri president

Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz on Monday met with Ilham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan, in Bern.

Merz was accompanied by Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey and by Moritz Leuenberger, who holds the environment, transport and energy portfolios.

The delegation, which included Azerbaijan's foreign affairs, energy and culture ministers, then met for a working lunch also attended by Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf.

Switzerland's foreign ministry called the Caucasian country a "stable partner". It noted that while economic contacts had strengthened, there was still potential for "great improvement".

The two sides discussed economic and energy cooperation, bilateral policies and the country's conflict with Armenia over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave with a majority Armenian population.

Switzerland was the primary broker of a peace deal signed by Armenia and Turkey on October 10. The struggle over Nagorno-Karabakh escalated after both Armenia and Azerbaijan attained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Azerbaijan and Turkey have strong links. and agencies



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