Azerbaijan pres. meets Jewish leaders

Aliyev urges talks with Hamas; calls extremism a 'dangerous trend.'

ibham aliyev 88 (photo credit: )
ibham aliyev 88
(photo credit: )
Israel should open a line of communication with Hamas in an effort to resolve the Middle East conflict, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev told a group of American Jewish leaders on Monday. "Extremism is a dangerous trend and tendency," Aliyev told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. "[But] dialogue is [the] best solution even if sometimes its doesn't reach solutions." Referring to the recent failure of Azerbaijanian and Armenian peace talks in Paris over the weekend, Aliyev hinted to the group of 100 that Israel should follow his example in entering negotiations with Armenia, despite their failure. "We need to try to explore every possibility," he said during the meeting held at the Presidential Palace in Baku. The two days of intense peace talks focused on finding a solution to ending the bloody 18-year conflict over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Over 30,000 people have been killed during the conflict and 1 million were made refugees. "There are opportunities for finding peace in the Middle East," the president continued, warning that "every aggressive step" leads to more violence. "It is better to talk and be present than to oppose and isolate," he said. Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov told the conference that Azerbaijan did not plan on opening an embassy in Israel in the near future. Israel has an embassy in Baku. "We would like to move in the direction of sending more delegations to Israel," Mammadyarov told the conference. He said that the opening of an embassy in Israel was currently a "delicate issue" since Azerbaijan would soon be taking up the chairmanship of the Organizations of Islamic Conferences (OCI). Both the foreign minister and the president warned of a confrontation with their southern neighbor Iran, claiming that it could destabilize the entire region. "The social and economic future of Azerbaijan depends on the security in the region," Aliyev said.