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U.S. Should Mediate Conflict in Azerbaijan

August 15, 1993

In "Conflict Comes Home to Unocal" (July 5), Michael Parrish reports that sympathizers of Armenia have succeeded in linking the internal strife over Nagorno Karabakh with U.S. aid to and investments in Azerbaijan.

Such a link does not serve the long-term interests of Armenia, the United States and the region as a whole. A stable region will depend on Muslim Azerbaijan being independent, secular, democratic, economically sound and a model for other former Soviet republics with Muslim populations.

Also, a friendly Azerbaijan, with its vast oil reserves, is important to our economy.

For these reasons, it is difficult to understand why the United States is distancing itself from Azerbaijan by excluding it from the aid package known as the 1992 Freedom Support Act. After all, this act is intended to help former Soviet Muslim Republics, such as Azerbaijan, develop a secular and democratic system friendly to the West.

We should mediate the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and at the same time promote a secular and friendly Azerbaijan. And we should promote the long-term interests of our oil industry and our national economy--not sacrifice it to short-term expedients.

JOHN RICHMAN

Dana Point

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