U.S., Azerbaijan sign
deal on energy

WASHINGTON Reuters — The United States and Azerbaijan signed an agreement Thursday to cooperate closely on energy issues, with a focus on building new gas export pipelines amid rising competition from Russia.

Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Elmar Mamedyarov and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed a memorandum of understanding at the U.S. State Department, outlining energy cooperation between the two countries.

Both sides promised to convene a "high-level dialogue" on energy security in the Caspian Sea, which the State Department said was aimed at broadening cooperation and expanding oil and gas production in Azerbaijan for export to global markets.

"Of particular focus will be realization of the Turkey-Greece-Italy gas pipeline, and potentially the Nabucco and other pipelines, with Azerbaijani gas, to help Europe bolster its energy security by diversifying its natural gas supplies," said a State Department statement.