(AP) - Russia is taking too active a role in the negotiations over the disputed Nagorno Karabakh enclave, Azerbaijan's president said Friday.
Ilham Aliev was reacting to comments by Russian parliament speaker Boris Gryzlov, who said that Armenia was Russia's outpost in the Caucasus region. Gryzlov made the statement Wednesday at a meeting between Armenian legislators and their Russian counterparts.
"We are confused: We have always considered Armenia a state, but now it turns out that it is an outpost," Aliev told journalists Friday. "So whom should we negotiate with now -- the outpost or the master of the outpost?" he said.
"I believe that if these negotiations are conducted in a constructive way, and the Armenian side does not go back on earlier agreed-upon positions ... we can come to certain agreements," Aliev said.
Aliev also said Friday that Azerbaijan will reopen its railway connection with neighboring Georgia only after it receives guarantees that the cargo is not redirected to Armenia. Azerbaijan closed its railway with Georgia for five days in November, barring some 1,500 train cars carrying oil and other cargo after some of the cargo ended up in Armenia. The trains were allowed back in after Azerbaijan and Georgia agreed that no cargo could be redirected to Armenia.