US Vice President Cheney starts ex-Soviet state tour

10:42, 03 September 2008
World
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Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and Georgia on agenda

US Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday arrived in the Azerbaijani capital Baku for talks on energy, his first stop on a tour of ex-Soviet nations, according to AFP.

Cheney touched down in Baku at about 10:00 am (0500 GMT), an AFP correspondent travelling with him reported.

His brief tour of the region would also see him offer support to US allies Georgia and Ukraine, amid chilly relations with Russia over its military conflict with Georgia. He would also attend an economic forum in Italy.

Cheney was scheduled later Wednesday to have talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, whose country sits on substantial oil and gas reserves and is also part of a major corridor for energy pipelines.

The Georgia leg of the trip was being seen as a key sign of support for the US ally after Russian tanks rolled into its smaller neighbour in early August followed by a five-day war over the Moscow-backed rebel region of South Ossetia.

Russia has withdrawn some forces but left others deep inside Georgian territory, serving in what Moscow describes as a peacekeeping mission. Tbilisi has labeled them an occupying force.

AFP

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