Gul to visit Azerbaijan next week
President Abdullah Gul will pay an official two-day visit to Azerbaijan early next week, about a month before Turkey's planned participation in a NATO exercise in Armenia, which borders both countries. Gul is scheduled to arrive in Baku on Monday. In addition to bilateral issues, the Nagorno-Karabakh territorial conflict between Armenian and Azerbaijan, which is hampering normalization efforts between Ankara and Yerevan, is likely to be discussed by Gul and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev. Turkey will be among the NATO and partner countries taking part in next month's Armenia 2010 exercise to be held by NATO's Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Center (EADRCC). The exercise, organized by the EADRCC as a consequence management field exercise, will take place on Sept. 11-17. Last month, the Foreign Ministry confirmed that the border between Turkey and Armenia may be opened temporarily, only for the purposes of the exercise. In a statement, the ministry said an "exceptional and temporary" opening of the border was under consideration should Turkey be asked to allow the overland transfer to Armenia of materials to be used in the exercise. "Other comments and reports regarding this issue do not reflect the facts," said the statement.