Turkey to transport natural gas to Nakhchivan free of charge
As part of a major natural gas deal signed last month between Turkey and Azerbaijan, Turkey has agreed to provide 500 million cubic meters of natural gas to Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan autonomous region, the birthplace of late Azeri President Haydar Aliyev, without charging any transit or transportation fees. Turkish-Azeri ties had been strained by Turkey's stalled rapprochement process with Armenia. The signing of the gas deal, which foresees doubling Turkish imports from Azerbaijan's huge Shah Deniz field by 2019, put Turkish-Azeri ties back on track, with Turkey also agreeing to pump natural gas to Nakhchivan free of charge. Between Nakhchivan and Azerbaijan lies Armenia, and Turkey accepting to transport natural gas to Nakhchivan through its own territory enables Azerbaijan to supply natural gas to its autonomous region by bypassing Armenia. In related news, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday tried to mend fences with Azerbaijan and promote a solution to its Nagorno-Karabakh dispute with Armenia. A US-backed push for rapprochement between Armenia and US ally Turkey has hurt US relations with Azerbaijan, which worries that its interests will be suffer as a result. Meeting with Clinton, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev urged the US to do more to find a just and lasting solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, calling it a major threat to regional peace and stability. For her part, Clinton said the US remains committed to its ties with Azerbaijan and also places great importance on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.