on the silk road

Turkey Walks Tightrope Over Iran Ties

Asbarez reports that a visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Turkey on Thursday reflects a desire by the NATO member to remain on good terms with an unpredictable neighbor and secure future energy needs.

President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan have come under criticism at home and abroad for inviting Ahmadinejad, a visit that marks a diplomatic coup for the firebrand leader who has been shunned by European countries.

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Gul Calls For Caucasus Union, Says ‘Essential’ for Peace in Region

Asbarez Reports ANKARA that Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul Tuesday echoed calls by his Prime Minister for the creation of a Caucasian Union, which he said would be essential for preventing the outbreak of future conflicts in the region.

Gul’s remarks come as Georgia is embroiled in an intense conflict with Russia that began after Georgian forces launched a surprise offensive in the breakaway territory of South Ossetia last Friday. The Georgian attack has resulted in the deaths of at least 1,600 people, most of whom were Russian citizens. It also attack triggered a Russian response that culminated in Russian forces seizing several key towns and a military bases deep in western Georgia on Monday.

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Saakashvili Agrees to Ceasefire after Medvedev Halts Russian Military Operations

Asbarez Reports that French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili said on Wednesday they had agreed to a modified version of a peace plan with Russia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia announced Tuesday that he had ordered a halt to Russia’s military operation in Georgia, although he did not say that troops were pulling out, and Russian forces were still authorized to fire on enemies in South Ossetia.

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Armenia Says ‘Unaffected’ By Georgia Crisis

Asbarez Reports: Contradicting statements by Armenian diplomats and cargo firms, Transport and Communications Minister Gurgen Sargsian insisted on Tuesday that the Russian-Georgian military conflict has not disrupted Armenia’s main supply lines running across Georgia.

The assurances came amid growing signs of fuel shortages in the country. Some gasoline stations in Yerevan restricted sales of petrol, while others were shut altogether. Fuel was reportedly in even shorter supply outside the capital.

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Yerevan Assures Tbilisi no Russian Attacks from Armenia

Asbarez Reports that Armenia’s Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian assured a senior Georgian diplomat on Tuesday that Russia did not and will not use Armenian territory for its ongoing military operations in Georgia.

Armenia maintains close defense links with Russia and hosts a Russian military base numbering several thousand soldiers and a dozen MiG-29 fighter jets.

The Defense Ministry in Yerevan flatly denied late last week Azerbaijani and Georgian media claims that some of the Russian warplanes involved in bomb raids on Georgia flew in from Armenian military airfields. A ministry spokesman rejected the allegations as an Azerbaijani “provocation” designed to damage Georgian-Armenian relations. He argued that the Russian military is not using MiG-29s in the air strikes.

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