WELCOMING THE PRESIDENT OF AZERBAIJAN -- (Extensions of Remarks - April 26, 2006)
* Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize Azerbaijan as a key ally in a region of significant importance and a valued partner to the United States. Azerbaijan has made important contributions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo and supports efforts to combat terrorism. The country has also taken effective steps to foster pro-democratic principles leading to fair and free elections.
* I also would like to welcome President Ilham Aliyev to Washington this week for meetings with President Bush, senior Administration officials, and key Congressional leaders to discuss the need for continued democratic reforms, regional cooperation, energy security and diversification, and our nations' commitment to working closely together to advance freedom, security, and economic independence.
* It is clear now more than ever that we must develop new sources of energy and partners not controlled by Middle East and South American dictatorships.
* Azerbaijan has been identified as key to the East-West transit corridor from the Caspian Sea to international markets. Sharing a 379 mile border with Iran, we should recognize that Azerbaijan is important to the United States relations in the region. I encourage my colleagues in the House to support the opening of the one million barrel per day Baku-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline and Baku-Erzerum (SCP) natural gas pipeline, set to increase energy exports and availability for the West.
* I welcome President Ilham Aliyev upon his first official visit to Washington.