BAKU, February 1 (RIA Novosti) - Sergei Lavrov, Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, arrived tonight in Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, on a two-day official visit.

The visit is coming in conformity with top-level bilateral understandings for a dynamic political dialogue. It aims to carry on efforts to step up bilateral foreign-ministerial contacts, says Alexander Yakovenko, Russia's official Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Mr. Lavrov intends to discuss implementation of understandings for extended economic partnership-in particular, in the fuel-and-energy complex, and work for closer direct economic contacts between Russian and Azeri regions. The visit schedule also envisages an opinion exchange on current efforts to elaborate the Caspian Sea legal status, and on prospects for another, second summit of the five littoral countries, Mr. Yakovenko went on.

There are serious problems between the Caspian basin countries with their different stances on the sea legal status. The problems forced the five Caspian countries-Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan-to put off their summit, initially scheduled for January 2005, with Tehran for venue. Their maiden summit, of April 2002, in Turkmenistan's Ashgabat, was an utter failure as the Parties could not overcome their differences for a coordinated final statement. The work goes on now on a multilateral arrangement, having gone over to an ad hoc team, made of Deputy Foreign Ministers and special envoys.

Russia and Azerbaijan mean, during Mr. Lavrov's visit, to pay particular attention to coordinating both countries' efforts enhancing the effect of their anti-terror alliance.

Karabakh settlement will not stay out of the agenda, added Mr. Yakovenko.

It is up to the conflicting parties themselves to come at a mutually acceptable way to settle the conflict. That is what Russia's Foreign Ministry proceeds from. Russia is willing to do as much as possible for the cause on a bilateral arrangement and as co-chair of the OSCE Minsk group. It is also willing to be guarantor of prospective understandings, reassured the diplomat.

The Russian and Azeri Foreign Ministers intend to exchange opinions on topical regional and global developmental issues. They will also discuss the ways to promote the United Nations' leading role, and to step up cooperation within the CIS. The negotiators will debate the ways to step up partnership of the two countries' Foreign Ministries in the Caucasus and worldwide, and to coordinate their activities in international organizations.

President Ilkham Aliev of the host country is expected to receive Mr. Lavrov.

The visitor's close schedule for tomorrow includes laying wreaths to the monument of Geidar Aliev, Azerbaijan's previous President, and to the Eternal Fire memorial. He will meet at the negotiation table with Elmar Mamedyarov, his Azeri counterpart, visit the Slav University of Baku, and meet in conference with Abbas Abbasov, Azerbaijan's First Deputy Prime Minister.

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