Obama Sends His Regards -- and His Defense Secretary -- to Azerbaijan
US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates came to Baku this weekend to whisper sweet nothings into Azerbaijan's ear after a brief spell in which the Azerbaijani government had threatened to rethink relations with its American suitor.
Coming from a country that is a key route for overflights to Afghanistan, the miffed message appears to have been understood.
After a year-long delay, Washington appointed longtime South Caucasus man, Matthew Bryza, as its ambassador to Baku, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last week congratulated Azerbaijan on having lots of oil and gas, and now Gates arrived to convey President Barack Obama’s respects to President Ilham Aliyev.
In his dispatch, Obama acknowledged that there are "serious issues" with Baku, but nothing that diplomatic attention cannot "address."
Gates, the first top-ranking Obama official to visit Azerbaijan, indicated during his June 6-7 visit that Baku will be seeing more of its American friends soon -- a visit by Secretary of State Clinton is also planned.