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Press Statement by External Affairs Minister after meeting with Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Baku (April 04, 2018)

April 04, 2018

H.E. Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Republic of Azerbaijan,

Members of the media,
Sallam, Namaskar!


I am very happy to be here in this the beautiful city of Baku.

Today afternoon, I called on His Excellency the President of Azerbaijan. We had fruitful discussions that brought out the high-level of commitment on both sides to strengthening the relationship for mutual benefit of the peoples of both countries.

I had detailed and fruitful talks with Foreign Minister Mammadyarov. We covered the full range of bilateral, regional & global issues of mutual interest. We took stock of progress in ourbilateral relations which have been progressing steadily.

India and Azerbaijan enjoy warm and friendly relations based on historical and cultural ties. Our countries share the values of democracy, respect for plurality and multiculturalism.

Our cultural exchanges over the ages have led to close cultural affinity and shared traditions.The historical monument of ‘Ateshgah’, that was used as a place of worship by Hindus, Sikhs and Zoroastrians, is a testimony of our shared culture.

Friends,

India seeks to consolidate and strengthen its friendly relations with Azerbaijan. I conveyed Foreign Minister Mammadyarov,that the Government of India is committed to working closely with the Government of Azerbaijan to build a reliable, strong, vibrant and mutually beneficial partnership.

Today, India has emerged as the fastest-growing large economy in the world. It is a global hub for manufacturing and innovation. Under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership, India is strongly committed to improving the "ease of doing business”.

We have set into motion many far-reaching changes to build infrastructure, reform the business environment and promote education, skills & economic development. I emphasized in my meetings that in India’s transformational journey, Azerbaijan can be a natural partner.We noted with satisfaction that India-Azerbaijan bilateral trade has increased substantially from around US$ 50 million in 2005 to around US$ 460 million in 2017. However, we agreed that it is still way below potential, and we need to work together to increase it further.

We noted with satisfaction thatafter the opening of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline to the Mediterranean port, Indian oil companies have been buying substantive quantities of crude oil.

Azerbaijan has invited Indian companies to set up joint ventures for production of pharmaceuticals and medical products in Special Economic Zones in Azerbaijan.

Foreign Minister Mr. Mammadyarov and I agreed that the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), of which both India and Azerbaijan are members,is an important initiative that can reduce time and cost by about 30-40 per cent. To popularise INSTC, a motor rally is being organised that would shortly pass through Azerbaijan.

We are happy to be Azerbaijan’s partner in the energy sector. India’s ONGC-Videsh is a shareholder and investor in the ACG oil fields and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. ONGC Videsh was among the signatories to the Revised and Amended Production Sharing Agreement signed in September 2017 extending contract by 32 years to 2049.

Both Foreign Minister Mammadyarov and I expressed our interest to partner with Azerbaijan in the field of agriculture, including in cotton and tobacco cultivation.We were satisfied with our cooperation in a project for women empowerment by setting up of self-help groups in three districts of Azerbaijan.

We have growing cooperation in capacity building. 20 Azerbaijani professionals andstudents have been attending training courses and scholarships in India every year under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme in a wide range of disciplines.

To enhance people to people contact, both India and Azerbaijan introduced electronic visa system for each other's nationals last year. Since its introduction in April 2017,more than 500 nationals from Azerbaijan have availed the facility.

We also exchanged views on some important global issues where India and Azerbaijan have growing convergences. We shared the view that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is a global scourge that requires global action in the spirit of "zero tolerance”, including by rooting out terrorist safe havens, disrupting terrorist networks, and financing channels andhalting cross-border movement of terrorists.We also emphasised the need for concerted global action to deal with other common challenges such as climate change.Tomorrow, I would be attending the NAM Mid Term Ministerial Meeting, I am confident that under the able leadership of H.E. Mr. Mammadyarov it would be successful. My good wishes are also for the next year’s NAM Summit and for your Chairmanship of NAM for the next three years.

As a founding member of NAM, India remains committed to its purposes and principles, andwill continue its active and constructive engagement within the Movement, with a view to further strengthen solidarity and cooperation among its Member States.

I wish to thank Foreign Minister Mammadyarov for his warm welcome and generous hospitality. I look forward to receiving him in India at an early date.

धन्यवाद.
तैशैक्यूर एदिरैम .


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